Unbeknownst to us, the first week of March 2020 would become the last week that life was, you know, normal. Synergy held our day long Spring Retreat on March 1st at Tower Hill Botanic Garden. The news at the time was increasingly focused on this new virus. Never could I have imagined that 12 days later my son would come home from school and not return for six months, SIX months. Lives uprooted, prematurely ended, careers suspended and lockdowns extended. It was all unimaginable but it became very real, very fast.
Like many of you, I am among the fortunate. My family remains healthy, we have a warm home and a strong support system of friends and loved ones. We continue to hold those who we know who have had this horrible disease in our prayers, and there are stories of loss, survival and long-haulers among them. As we approach the one-year mark of the world’s shut down, the pain is palpable at the half a million lives lost in this country alone – moms and dads, daughters and sons, many who died alone, holding the hands of their heroic healthcare workers who dignified their last moments as best they could. My heart aches for the very soul of our nation and for humanity as this pandemic and the national movement to address persistent racism in our culture have and will continue to test our compassion and willingness to make lasting change for the greater good.
When March 17th arrived and we closed Synergy, my husband, who had already been working from home prior to COVID, got displaced from his usual work-from-home location as my son and I transformed the dining room into a dual classroom/home office. Many days of the week my son cried over his school work, showing a growing resistance to school work and having to spend hours on the iPad (which pre-pandemic he would have begged to use). As he grew exhausted of remote learning, I found myself often working until midnight, brainstorming how I could not only save Synergy, but see it thrive.
As for parenting in a pandemic, my parenting deficits became illuminated under a big bright light, challenging me in ways I needed to grow, both for my son and for my family, and it’s still a work in progress. We had many high moments too, baking loaves upon loaves of banana bread, lots of bike riding, teaching my 4th grader how to play blackjack (proud moment), and discovering the amazing hiking spots in town and nearby that provide dozens of hours of recreation.
With a year full of adrenal rush moments, the big and small ones will likely be remembered more than any prior year — the day Governor Baker said that children would not return to school; the day my son cried before going to bed that he wanted his life to be normal again; the day the center of our democracy was attacked: the day my 87 year-old mom and I got our COVID vaccines together. We regularly visited my mom with whom we “broke the rules” and went maskless because she lived alone and actually went more places than we did. We have immense gratitude for the many laughs and get-togethers with our “pod” friends, a family of 3 on our street who provided our “only children” with playmates and us as parents with opportunities to feel life as it had been. Life felt so refreshingly normal at times as we lounged by the pool last Summer, shared Thanksgiving dessert, enjoyed lots of good Irish tea, and celebrated our first vaccinations. I feel blessed for all of these moments.
As I sat down to write this, the purpose was two-fold. First, I wanted to mark the occasion of our arrival at the one-year mark since COVID upended our lives. Until now it’s been “wow the kids have been out of school for XX months, we haven’t seen our family in XX months, we haven’t eaten in a restaurant in XX months,” the list it goes on. The message here though is intended to be one of reflection and hope. Anniversaries do that to you. As we reach the milestone of one year in a generation changing pandemic, we have all been impacted by this collective trauma and public health crisis. Our children have missed school, but I gained 55 additional hours per week with my son during remote learning last Spring, and children will be back in the classroom soon. I learned that I can cook 87 meals in a row, make it 2 weeks without grocery shopping, and that Zoom can bring people closer than they were before we even knew what Zoom was. While some friendships have been put on hold, new ones were forged with fellow business owners as we strengthened our resolve to work like hell to make it through this, sharing whatever we could to hold each other up. As the world begins to mirror the rebirth of Spring, hoping to bring life and color back from the darkness, we must remember not just where we are now but where we have been.
I truly believe each of us can make an individual impact if we collectively honor those who lost their lives and show our compassion for the living by doing things like wearing a mask as if your life depends on it, because it does. Only then, will some sort of normalcy return. As we move forward, I hope that we may all move past any political differences and come together. Let us continue to remember how precious human life is. As the months go on, I will continue to keep each of you in my heart. I am so grateful for the support that you have given Synergy over this past year, and I hope that you will always see us as a safe place where you can relax, grow, and heal.