Taking Stock: One Year into The Pandemic

Here we are, one year into the pandemic. Other bloggers are noting this anniversary and rightly so. Covid-19 is one of the seminal events of our lifetimes, affecting not only states, regions, or certain countries but also the entire world.

Did I see it coming? Yes, I did. Starting in January 2020, I was keeping close track of where the virus was and how fast it was spreading. When Covid-19 left China at the end of that month, I knew it would travel easily to the rest of the world. Planes, trains, and automobiles became friends of the virus. (Click here for NBC’s timeline of the pandemic.)

In February, I started preparing. I can smugly report that I stocked up on toilet paper and other essentials that became nearly impossible to find. We put up plastic shelving in my husband’s office, and the room soon came to resemble a grocery store. I like to think I wasn’t hoarding and instead was stock piling, but I know there can be a fine line between the two.

What I hadn’t anticipated was how long the pandemic was going to last. In my naivety, I expected Covid-19 to be gone by summer, much like the seasonal flu. How wrong I was. Despite what certain politicians initially wanted us to believe, Covid-19 is no seasonal flu. Instead, it is a new and deadly virus that our bodies are unprepared for.

The first week of March, Clif and I went into a personal lock-down. How lucky we are to have our own modest but snug home and pensions that  cover the necessities of life.  We could easily hunker down and stay safe.

But our eldest daughter Dee lives in New York City, which soon become one of the epicenters of the pandemic. Day and night, ambulances rushed patients to the hospitals, and in the background we could hear sirens wailing, one after another, when we spoke to her on the phone.

Again, luck was with our family. Despite having plenty of opportunities to be exposed to Covid-19, Dee, along with the rest of her office, somehow dodged the bullet. More good fortune: She can do her job from her own apartment. Sometime in March 2020, Dee’s office allowed everyone to work from home and has continued to do so.

Still, we worried terribly about her, and many is the time I wished Dee were with us in Winthrop instead of by herself in a tiny apartment in Brooklyn. But that woman has fortitude in spades and has weathered the pandemic with courage and resourcefulness.

Ditto for our North Carolina kids, Shannon and her husband Mike. North Carolina, so far away from Maine, was another Covid-19 hotspot, but Shannon and Mike were able to work from their apartment much of the time and thus far have not contracted this dreadful disease.

Hoo-boy! Worrying from afar is no fun. At all.

What to say about the rest of year? Holidays spent lonely and alone. Zoom calls serving as visits. Socially-distanced gatherings with friends on the patio. Masks, an essential accessory.

On a national level, it has been nothing less than a surreal experience as we watched politicians lie and deny and make a bad situation ever so much worse. You all know whom I’m talking about. History will not judge them kindly even if today they are still bloviating and lying and in the news.

This country endured a nail-biting election, a big lie about the outcome, a beautiful if subdued inauguration of a new president who has hit the ground running and is doing his best to get the country back on track.

Then, the assault on the Capitol. With horror and grief, we watched on the news as this horrible event happened in real time. Another impeachment followed by more lies and an acquittal.

What. A. Year.

However, there have also been bright spots. Essential workers—doctors, nurses, grocery store clerks, farmers, bakers, teachers, and many others—kept society running, often at great risk to themselves. Building on past research of other coronaviruses, scientists from many countries worked together and raced to find vaccines for Covid-19. And by gum they have. The roll-out has not been smooth. How could it be when our goal is to vaccinate the world? But great progress is being made.

Technology has been a blessing, a way to stay in touch with loved ones.

And you, my blogging friends, have also been a blessing. Near and far, you have helped keep me connected and sane.

I will end with this song by R.E.M. Oddly enough, despite this crucible of a year, I do feel fine.

75 thoughts on “Taking Stock: One Year into The Pandemic”

  1. It has been quite the year. But I am feeling really hopeful today that some normalcy will be coming soon. I think there’s a strong chance that Michael and I will be able to make it up to Maine this summer – my fingers are firmly crossed!!

  2. It was a strange year. Our first Level 4 lockdown was hard (only supermarkets and pharmacies open, only one person per household allowed to do the shopping and so on) but I believe effective, and the borders were closed quickly. You can only come into the country if you spend 2 weeks in managed isolation on arrival. Of course, a virus is a virus and it is still out there. We have no idea when we can travel abroad again, or if we will need to have a vaccination passport. While in the UK and Europe the vaccine is being rolled out, and I know of lots of people who are getting it, we don’t know when ordinary folk will get it here. So far, only people working at the border or in managed isolation as well as health workers have had it.

    Thank goodness for technology though to help us all keep in touch! I do hope your children are all doing fine and hopefully soon you can actually see them in person.

  3. The last time I went out to eat at a restaurant was just about a year ago, and it seems almost immediately after that, everything shut down. I also thought, or hoped, the virus would be seasonal and things would be better by summer. Initially, I ordered a dozen bandanas for face covering, but it wasn’t long before I had a collection of masks. Thanks for your thoughtful overview.

    1. Thanks for the kind words. Yes, we were all thrown for a loop. A hard year for everyone, even for those of us who have been lucky enough not to have lost loved ones.

  4. What a year it’s been Laurie and so glad you and your family are still safe and well. We’ve lost some much-loved people in our community and are still in lockdown. We are grateful for all the small pleasures we continue to find in the everyday and look forward to better times to come 💖

  5. What a year! One of our children contracted covid – a most worrying time as he lives on his own, We have lost friends and family to the virus, so it has not always been a happy time. Still, we have dug deep and appreciate what we have and especially the online contact we have with our scattered family. I really hope you will see your children before long, Laurie. I had tea with two friends yesterday for the first time in a year yesterday – WHAT a wonderful feeling that was!

    1. So, very, very sorry to learn about your son having covid-19. I surely hope he is well now. And then to lose family and friends. Again, so very sorry. A horrible year for you and yours. I bet it was just wonderful to have tea with friends.

      1. We are all fine and are making the most of what we have. All we really need (pandemic aside) is lots of rain before winter 🙂

      2. So hope you get some rain! Glad to read you are all fine. How awful it must have been for you when your son was ill. My husband and I discussed what we would do if our eldest daughter contract Covid-19, and we decided one of us would go to New York to stay with her. This was before travel was banned, of course. Then, there were lock-downs and quarantines. What a nightmare!

  6. I am glad that you and your family are getting through these troubled times as well as can be expected. It was unfortunate for both our countries that our elected leaders had not been chosen for their ability to deal with a major health crisis.

  7. Even though the average Canadian in my age group (62) will not likely see their first Covid-vaccine until later in the summer, I am starting to feel hopeful. Your post added to this hope. Thank you!

  8. It has been one for the books, for sure, complex beyond definition. Can’t wait for it to get in the rearview mirror!
    The biggest blessing was the internet, I would have gone nuts without it!

  9. Laurie, you’ve done such a great job of summarizing this “unique” year in history. Who could have predicted? Let’s hope a summary a year hence is far different … in a positive way.

  10. When a year is put into these words, it becomes a shock. A shock at how society changed and so irretrievably. But life surprises us and I am glad that you and your family have been resilient enough to adapt to all the changes necessary. I do hope in the next twelve months, the pendulum of good luck will swing the other way for the whole world.

  11. 2020 was a difficult year. This one did not start out well, but at least things are moving.

    REM – I had forgotten about them. Thanks for the reminder!

  12. This song has run through my mind so many times in this Time of Crazy … and again, this morning, as I read your post.

    It’s so interesting that all the way across the world, my own experience hasn’t been too different. The self-imposed restrictions, the anxieties for family, the disbelief that the world really had gone mad (beyond the pandemic), and the realisation that this was going to persist for a long while yet.

    And like you, I have been kept sane by our BlogCommunity, although it took me a while before I could focus on writing after embarking on a kitchen frenzy in response to Loving Husband & Two Daughters being home all day. We gathered a lot at the Dining Table and enjoyed the unexpected break from everyone’s busy schedules.

    1. “Time of Crazy” is a perfect description. How about this: 2020: Time of Crazy. Great for a t-shirt or a bumper sticker, don’t you think?

  13. A life time from now, future generations will be looking at what we have chronicled about this event. As to your photo of masks, at first I thought that you had laid out a bikini. Going to the beach… warmer climate? Which reminded me of one time, while we worked on the Covid units, we walked into the staff break room. The local seamstresses had made masks for staff. They were piled on the table, looking like… a bunch of string bikinis! Humor has gotten us through this year. – Oscar

      1. I noticed that you mentioned having young ones in NC. Our part of WV is just 45 minutes west of highway 81 through the Shenandoah Valley if you travel south-north along the route along your way to NC. You are always welcome here along your travels.

      2. Maine is on our list. We mostly do family visits, as our parents are on either side of 90 these days, so Rhode Island is the farthest north we get.

  14. I am so glad you and your family have survived and have not been struck by the virus. It has certainly been a year to remember – but definitely not one I want to repeat. Like you I am very thankful that I live where it is fairly easy to stay safe and sane. There is talk here in the UK of loosening our lockdown very gradually starting in a few weeks as the vaccine roll-out has been going well. Won’t those first hugs with our loved ones be precious?

  15. Thoughtful and truthful reflections on the last year. So glad that your kids have avoided illness. Same for ours. Judy will get her second vaccination on Friday, and I got my first yesterday. How are vaccinations going in Maine? The denial and bad faith actions continue in places, but I can’t help feeling more optimistic lately.

    1. Thanks so much! Glad that your kids haven’t caught Covid-19. Wonderful that you and Judy have been vaccinated. Clif and I are on the list. Not sure when we will be called.

  16. Ah, Laurie, I remember having a child n Brooklyn while the pandemic raged. I can sympathize with your “worry from afar.” So smart of you to know to stockpile toilet paper! LOL That shortage caught me by surprise, as did French cut green beans. (I just found them in the store again recently – along with disinfectant spray.)

  17. You have given an excellent summary of this Covid year. Our younger daughter is living by herself and also running the office from home…half way through the year, she got a puppy and he has been a wonderful addition to her life during a very lonely time.
    I have enjoyed following bloggers all over the world, (particularly your interesting posts) it has made such a difference to every day life.
    Aren’t we lucky to be bloggers!

    1. Thanks so much! Wonderful that your daughter now has a dog buddy to keep her company. And we are indeed lucky to be bloggers! I have learned so much about your beautiful city from you.

      1. Thanks Laurie, I’m glad to hear you have learnt about Canberra from my blog…and I didn’t know much about Maine before I started reading your blog, especially snow gauge husbands, and fishing huts in the middle of the frozen lake!

  18. Crazy times. Who knew our lives would change so drastically. We are still in lockdown and Portugal is on the red list so we can’t travel (not that I would want to) during a Pandemic. It annoys the hell out of me when I see people worrying about missing out on their annual holiday when so virus spreads so easily.

    I watched the news in horror as the US government at the time seemed to be in denial about masks while many countries in Europe made the wearing of masks mandatory.

    Incidentally, I had a double-take at your photo … I thought the two black masks at the top were a bra LoL . Which made me think wearing a mask in public has become as natural as wearing underwear.

    1. Crazy times is right. It has been a horror show in this country, and that element has unfortunately not gone away. Those two black masks do look like bras, but weird ones, wouldn’t you say? 😉

  19. A year like no other and we still don’t know when the virus will be a thing of the past. Masks will continue to be a part of my life indefinitely…and I have plenty to last a long time. I am glad your family has been able to work at home and stay well.

  20. Great post Laurie ❤️ What a strange year. If you had asked me about this in 2019, I would not have guessed all new “normals” that would come into our lives. Wishing you some family get togethers in 2021 🍀

  21. Yes, who would have thought something like this could happen !!!??? When it arrived in my country we thought it would be gone in no time. Was I wrong !!! Personally it wasn’t too bad for me but now I would love so much that we could go back to”normal” . For a lot of people it was bad, very bad. I think we can’t thank doctors and nurses and carers enough for what they did, also everyone who worked in shops, provided food, post delivery and so many more, we just can’t thank these people enough cos they all risked their lives. Let’s hope it will be over soon !!

      1. The other day they said over 2 million deaths in the whole world.!!

      2. Terrible indeed. I think there are a lot more deaths cos not every country know how many people they have….

  22. What a year, Laurie. You summarized such a familiar experience for so many of us. I remember hearing that we might lose 60,000 people in the US and that seemed so huge. It’s been such a year of incredible change and tragedy. Perhaps enough people have learned our lessons that we can prevent the next one. Be well, my friend.

  23. How quickly I could remember every moment and phase reading through your powerful summary of the year in Taking Stock and you’re so right, What.A.Year. Thankfully you and your family were able to stay safe in your homes with limited exposure and I’m glad to read that they are still working safely from home until the risk is minimized. I have to admit that I’m still surprised that a year later when health officials are asking for a few more months before easing restrictions due to the variants and vaccines that so many states have decided they cannot wait. It appears we’re going to continue to fail through every stage of this pandemic. We still have plenty of toilet paper and essential supplies and I’m surprised how often the shelves are still empty of many items at the grocery store. Love the selection of masks, especially the one on the left, and I’m looking forward to the day when we read about your family coming for a visit.

  24. What a year! We will be dealing with the after-effects of this pandemic for years and years, won’t we?
    I must admit to not thinking ahead with regard to shopping for essentials and stock-piling and we nearly ran out of toilet paper at one stage. However, after a lot of research I decided to switch to toilet paper made from sustainably-produced bamboo. I get a box of 24 rolls delivered every four months – no plastic packaging. For each box I buy, provision is made for one child in Kenya to get safe water for a year! https://nakedsprout.uk/?gclid=Cj0KCQiAs5eCBhCBARIsAEhk4r6zsVOPjBeGcGish3YQ_P22U-5Eww21DOQ3p5DDhLRZFbwTXpfP7nUaAl90EALw_wcB
    This is one of the best decisions I have ever made, I think!
    We are really looking forward to seeing friends and family in the flesh again one day and being free to travel further than the nearest shop and/or hospital for a family day out.

    1. That toilet paper sounds great! I will be checking it out. Yes, I think we will be dealing with the aftermath for years, and I am hoping that some of the changes will be good. In our country, at least, a change is long overdue. Right now it seems to me we are on the knife’s edge, and for me, at least, there’s no telling which way will go.

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