New

I’m tired just thinking about all the worry of this last year—all the whirring facts, opinions, projections, and numbers that clouded the skies of 2020. The sinking of my heart whenever a friend or relative came down with the virus. The worry that dogged my students, kids in masks at school. The morning I woke up with strep— then the long line to get my nose swabbed by doctors in astronaut-style white outfits. My sleep suffered, my dreams were all stressmares. 

My son smiled through his 4th birthday party, which was attended by his parents. We shaved his hair off when it got too long, and took him for walks where we scrupulously avoided any other humans. He sobbed for hours when he was unable to go to his grandparents’ house on Easter, and said to me the other day on our way to an outdoor church service, “I want to see you with no mask.” 

It feels like we lived in another era back in February, when my brother got married at a big, gorgeous venue. We all sat so close together and ate cake and waffles from a long buffet. People flew in from Boston…people hugged. 

Then that long quarantine…that extended Spring Break that we’re still in, in a way. 

But then my niece was born.

My sister’s 2020 was hard too—she was teaching, she was pregnant, she was tired and nervous…but 2020 for her wasn’t the year of the virus, it was the year of Elizabeth. She announced her pregnancy during the dark days of late spring, and for a while we all got to talk about something besides covid.

My lovely niece was born in a hospital that was stretched thin. She wasn’t visited, she had no huge group of people waiting with balloons down the hall. But here she is, all the same, confident we’ll all look after her. She’s none the wiser…she has no idea the state the world is in right now, that this planet is inhospitable. She’s a baby—life for her is Mom, Dad, sleep, food, hot, cold.

And I like to think of her when she’s big…a taller version of my sister, maybe with her dad’s eyes and her mom’s hair, turning 10 or 11…asking about when she was born. 

And we’ll tell her that 2020 was hard. But it was the year she was born…the year she was created and given to her parents like a Christmas gift, and we all felt showered with blessings.

And I’ve been helping with her. Taking care of babies is exhausting—my brother-in-law has a glazed expression and my sister rejoices when she gets 2 hours of sleep. But compared to the tiredness of waiting for the other shoe to drop, of waiting for the numbers to drop, it’s a good tired. It’s the tiredness that comes from being stretched by a new life. 

2020 was a terrible year in many ways, but not in every way. Stay awake, team.

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