It's been a week of realizing our grief, hasn't it? Recounting the days before and after. Telling the stories that begin, "Last year at this time."
We do this when we lose people we love. I call them the Walking-Through-Jello days of grieving that include the phrases, "Last week at this time..." and "Last month I was..." and "Remember their birthday last year?" These days are followed by the still-grieving conversations that gather around the words, "A year ago we..."
Many - so, so many - have lost people they love to COVID-19 over the last 12 months.
526,815 families in the United States have buried at least one person who was not supposed to be taken away by a virus. That's an average of 1,443 deaths a day for 365 days.
2.6 million families across the globe have done the same.
45,837 families here in my home state of Texas have said unexpected goodbyes - 124 of them today.
The rest of us have simply lost days and months and now a full year of an ease of movement we never really knew gave us such joy. The ability to meet friends for an easy restaurant dinner. The chance to catch a quick movie with a sibling. The dash to a grocery for an onion and two potatoes. The warm hug from a grandchild, parent, favorite neighbor. My son.
Around here, our lives have been only minimally disrupted for most of the last 12 months. One year ago today, I unpacked the bag I'd so brilliantly layered with 3-weeks worth of necessities for a Tuesday morning, March 10 departure to Paris. I posted this photo on Instagram with the caption: See you in September, Paris!
It was to be my first trip to The City of Lights and many lovely places beyond. We'd clung hard to the notion that to go was not irresponsible, and even if it was - so what?! The worst that could happen was we'd be waylaid. In Europe. Boo hoo.
The Louvre had closed on March 1. That was a splash of cold water on our determination to depart as planned. But then it re-opened two days later. Here are a couple of sentences lifted from a March 2 piece about the early angst at the Louvre. The words sound so strange now.
After a long meeting between staff on Wednesday morning, at midday the Louvre tweeted it would again be open. Joy to the hundreds of tourists queuing up outside (many of them sporting masks) waiting on the outcome of the rendezvous. Workers had demanded the museum stay closed Sunday and Monday, in a bid to protect themselves against the snowballing COVID-19 threat.
We thought we'd press a very quick pause on business-as-usual, didn't we?
The World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic on March 11.
The Louvre closed again on March 13.
It re-opened on July 6.
It closed yet again on October 30. It is still closed.
This yo-yo of hoping and rescheduling, planning and rearranging, embracing and cursing, making peace and longing...it has taken a toll on everyone.
Just like grief.
Last year on this day, I unpacked a bag and postponed a great trip for 6 months.
Then, in early September, the tickets were pushed to April.
Today they were turned into credit.
Tomorrow, on the anniversary of the day I was to depart on an extraordinary adventure, I will receive my 2nd Moderna shot, then I'll come home and quietly wait the prescribed 2-weeks before easing my way into something like a "new normal."
And that's the way grief goes. Nothing is ever quite the way it was.
So be kind. To yourself and to others.
Last year at this time, many of us were not grieving. Today, we very much are.