What we've lost


This started as a Twitter thread, but one of my long-time goals has been to not put stuff in Twitter threads, so here it is in longer form. Hopefully this is the start of a nice return to blogging for 2021!

A few days ago, I was putting together our physical photo album for 2020. I do this every year because I’m terrified that I’m going to lose all of our photos into the digital ether.

I usually am happily nostalgic when I put these albums together, but this year, I was filled with infinite sadness as I started on January and February 2020. I couldn’t bear to flip forward, knowing that everything from March onward would collapse.

A stream of photos that started out as normal - ringing in the new year with family, swim practices, nights out - ended with endless images of the four of us, at home, alone together. Making breakfast. Taking endless walks. Making lunch. Frantically trying new crafts. Passover, on Zoom. The baby’s birthday, with the grandparents in the backyard on a picnic blanket. (For my daughter’s first birthday, we had 50 people at a restaurant.)

A whole universe of options, collapsed and imploded.

What should we have done differently, had we known? Taken more trips? Scheduled more play dates? Laughed more?It doesn’t matter. 2020 is almost at an end and hopefully with it the beginning of the end of this hideousness.

The overarching theme of tragedy this year - and there are a lot of tragedies, multitudes, just universes of tragedies, of death, of job loss, of silent and unspeakable endless grief - is that we were all, one way or another, robbed of a year of our already impossibly short lives on this round blue sphere.

The ultimate loss is the loss of time, time with other people, time on earth. Because we can never get that back.

To not end on a negative note, there is this phrase in Russian, “черная полоса”, a black streak, a period of bad luck. I strongly believe that nature works in such a way as to always counteract these streaks, and we are not quite, but almost at the end of the lowest point of our current streak, the tunnel of 2021 weakly shining a small, but ever-growing light, up ahead.