This year has been one full of challenges. I was sent home to work, given a time frame of "indefinitely." That was fine. I cut 2 hours out of my commute and found a new appreciation for pajamas and slippers. I watched people continue to be separated by enigmatic speech reminiscent of Nazi Germany and it was just as toxic and effective. Even now, it pervades our society and pits us one against another, friend against friend, family against family. I saw too many videos and news reports of African Americans dying at the hands of "bad apples." Each time I silently gave thanks that it wasn't my brother or sister and cursed the media for playing the horrid scenes over and over again. They saw it as news. I saw it as a snuff film, replayed to remind me it could be someone I knew next time. People were outraged and filled the streets. Confederate monuments toppled. The president used military force against citizens to take a photo holding a bible. Politicians chose power and money over the populace. We as a people were undervalued and underserved. Jobs were lost. Money ran out. Businesses failed. Rent fell too far behind to be paid. Food banks struggled to provide. The virus continued, undaunted, as people refused to wear a mask as a protective measure. Hundreds of thousands died. Daddy said, "Just pray." I prayed for peace and provision; for a hedge of protection around my friends and family.
I made it all the way to July, when my newest aunt passed away and my uncle's heart broke. He held strong. Then, on September 17, the virus hit home. My father contracted it and swore he would be ok. "Just pray," he said. "I'll be fine." Complications of COVID claimed his life quickly. My heart shattered and tears poured. Even now, my eyes fill and my vision blurs. Surely this was the worst it could get. I learned things about his life I never knew. I called upon my family and friends for help. I needed people to lean on. I relied heavily on his youngest brother and he encouraged me. A smile on every phone call and joyful texts. He was like a second father. "Baby," he said, "I have to go in for surgery. I hope they get it fixed this time. Just pray." So I prayed and he told me he'd be fine. He went into the hospital before Thanksgiving and never left, passing in ICU on November 29. I complained. I cried. I asked God why these things had to happen. I pushed the pain down and buried it. Occasionally it slips out and I have to push it back down. I'll get to it eventually.
This post is pain-filled, but that is not its purpose. It is a reminder that there is hope. There is ALWAYS hope. The political climate is disgusting, but we have elected a new president and the first minority woman as a vice president. A vaccine has been found for the virus. I have grown closer to my family and friends and have learned to lean on them when my strength is low. I have learned to love those who dislike me before I even say a word. There is hope in the darkest corner of the darkest room on the darkest day. Just as it lay buried and forgotten in Pandora's chest, it resides hidden in the shadows of negativity that demand our attention. It is small, but mighty, and although 2020 tried to take us all out, hope was never extinguished.
As we count down to the end of this difficult year, I invite you to find the hope in your situation. No matter how great or small your struggle, it is there, waiting for you. It is calling you to pick it up and let its light guide you. It is asking you to trust, to believe that although things may not be the same, tough times will pass and you will emerge on the other side.
Have you lost a loved one? Do you have a story of newly found hope to share? Post it below. We need each other to make it through and there is someone waiting to hear your story. I want to hear your story.
Always with love, light, laughter... and hope.