It happens every year. As the solstice approaches, before the new year begins, I always feel a tug of remorse for what was left undone in the current year. A long time ago, I resolved not to make resolutions; it was because I no longer wanted to feel the guilt of not keeping them. It was a vow I have not broken.
But that doesn’t mean that I can turn that calendar page from December to January without considering the things I should do differently in the new year. Last year, the dawn of a new decade was especially poignant. This year my hope is that sometime soon I can retire my mask and feel confident hugging a new friend.
As this year has progressed, it becomes increasingly important to recognize that, as individuals, we may have little control over our circumstances. The one thing I had planned for 2020 was to travel more, to new places further away, and more often. Several trips were planned, actually, and I had the dates circled on my calendar.
Although my husband and I were able to sneak in a quick five-day getaway in January, those other eagerly-awaited trips to more exotic destinations were canceled.
Not by choice.
We did, however, manage to move to a new home in another state this year, despite the unexpected restrictions mandated by a new virus.
But, if there is any good lesson to be learned from a pandemic, it is simply this:
Life goes on.
Yes, people are affected in terrible and unexpected ways. Individuals sicken and die. And, this year, the uncertainty continues. Our world, and nearly every life on the planet has been touched in inexplicable manner by a virus so tiny — and so unknown — that it has confounded top scientific minds across the globe. We also faced a political campaign that was nothing if not unusual, major storms and natural disasters in our country and on other continents, demonstrations and violent uprisings in our own nation, and a growing sense that unrest is rampant and change is the new normal.
It is confirmation, come crashing into our consciousness, that — as my grandmother might have said — “We’re not so smart, after all!”
But, life goes on.
That was confirmed in another way, quite unexpectedly, earlier this year. I received a friend request through Facebook, from a person I did not know. I am leery of accepting new friends, preferring only a small circle of social media acquaintances. But, I was intrigued when I went to her home page and recognized the family name of some of my forebears among her friends.
Yes, you guessed it; I pushed the accept button.
Then I received a personal message — from Norway — from a person whose name I had never heard, living in a place I did not know from family records. She sent a photocopy of a letter written some 72 years ago by my grandmother in Montana to her cousin in Norway. And that letter brought tears to my eyes.
The long-ago correspondence proved, once again, that across the ages, through good times and bad, life does indeed go on. People go about their business, raise families, worry about the future, and hold on to hopes, dreams and memories of the past.
I’ll share just a snippet of that letter, written December 6, 1948:
My dear Cousin Kari,
Oh, how many times I have thought of you and asked God to bless you! I hope you are well and happy. We are, especially happy the last two years since all our boys are back from Europe, Panama, and China & India after the war closed. Glenn was the last one to come [home] July 2, 1946. They all came home without any scar or hurt but they had seen and mentally suffered a lot. Glenn was in India & China and he was as poor as a stick when he returned. Clifford was with the 8th Air Force in England and Lloyd with the Navy on a mine sweeper in Panama. I pray God will save us from having to fight the world again — but I have two little grandsons so I fear they will come in for a world fight when they reach the age.”
The letter goes on to tell of other family members in the United States and to wish everyone in Norway a “very happy Christmas.”
So, now you might ask exactly what the point of this post might be. It is simply this.
We must continue to make plans, to hold onto those hopes and dreams, to cherish family and friends, both old and new, and to treasure each moment of our lives.
Finally, we must always be open to new experiences, to finding new friends and family, and to embracing the future, no matter what it might hold.
That’s what life is all about. And no tiny virus can change that!
Life goes on.
Note: I have since added others who are somehow related to me to my list of Facebook friends and spent time trying to piece together additional branches of a family tree that has grown during the past 70 years. It will take some work, but it is fascinating and rewarding. When worldwide travel is once again authorized, I hope to plan a trip to Norway to reconnect with this branch of the family I only discovered during a worldwide pandemic that kept us all at home. What a quirk of fate that is!