Do you see the light? It’s everywhere this year.
For many—in fact probably all of us—2020 has been a year of isolation, loss, devastation, heartbreak, disease, death, sacrifice, fear, worry…the deep, dark, existential worry that plagues your heart as you dare to face another day.
The first life lost to COVID-19 in our hospital was a young man in his 30s, waiting patiently in the waiting room for his wife, who was horribly ill. He hadn’t even considered getting himself checked as he lay there burning up, struggling to breath, half-awake when someone noticed something wasn’t right with this stranger in the waiting room.
He was just sitting there, slowly dying, as he waited for his wife to be treated. He was found with his heart racing, lungs devoid of oxygen, skin burning; we had no idea what we were dealing with. We did our best with what we knew at the time, and got him to the ICU, but he died there not too much later—he drowned from the inside.
It’s not often we weep at work. It’s not often you see our vulnerability. It’s rare to shed a tear, even though we face tragedy that would bring the average person to their knees on the daily. We hold it down, look to the next person seeking help, put on our shield, and keep going because we’ve learned to embrace the vulnerability and strength of the human vessel. We say our prayers in silence, and send silent blessings to the deceased and dying from the whispers of our heart.
But this day, we wept.
For me, it was the next day when I arrived to hear the news. COVID-19 was here. And it’s not a hoax. It’s not the flu. It’s a dragon we’ve never seen before, and had to learn how to slay with a whole new arsenal of knowledge. And that’s how it began: 2020.
The year continued to unveil eruptions of what seems to have been a dormant volcano we all were living on without knowing what boiled under the surface.
The world shut down. And the lava spewed everywhere.
Going to the hospital for a shift felt like preparing to enter a war zone. Will I catch it? Will I bring home death to my family?
This is what we all felt as we donned our PPE and carried on, one scared human at a time.
We all kept going.
And in the going, our primary identity was heightened: mothers, fathers, children, grandparents, siblings, friends, aunts, uncles, niece, nephew, cousin. Family.
Minds already burdened with illness were unraveling as fear and anxiety overwhelmed us.
Vital resources retreated into safety: therapists, yoga studios, medical offices, parks, playgrounds, schools, beaches, restaurants. Never before have we realized how vital these are to our wellness.
People. Play. Food. Nature. Self-care.
We had mountains to climb at home as we kept our children close. Educating, feeding, playing, and holding, all while working, producing, providing.
The intensity of being stripped of all we knew bred unrest in our heart, minds and souls.
Civil injustice heightened as the world witnessed a man beg for his momma and for air as his life was taken from him in front of our eyes by someone sworn to protect.
The volcano spewed with anger at the evil that this day unveiled.
We turned inward as we protested outwardly.
We questioned our conditioning. We questioned our thoughts, words, and actions.
We united, and continue to fight for unity and prove that evil has no power over love when the courageous open their hearts and take action.
And life carried on as it would have anyway…
I lost my Grandpa last week.
A 97-year-old father, husband, son, brother, Harvard and Purdue educated rocket scientist who served our country, and most importantly his family, with the power of his intellect and the magnetism of his heart.
My last grandparent on Earth has joined the heavens with the others. And though I’m grateful for their eternal peace, my heart yearns for the wisdom of their embrace, that hug that reminds you that everything is okay.
Mom has surgery next.
Watching someone you love more than life itself suffer a pain that you can not take away is the most helpless feeling.
But watching her strength and courage carry her through as she walks the halls one careful step at a time toward recovery is more powerful than any words of encouragement someone could speak.
There’s more—it goes on and on with worry and despair.
Not to mention the battle I fight daily with my own vessel.
Endometriosis. Fibromyalgia. Scoliosis. Chondromalacia. Hypothyroid. Hormone imbalance. And on and on.
There’s no choice but to move with the pain until the pain finally passes. Pain in my body, pain in my heart—pain is part of me, everyday.
So you might wonder, where is the light? Where is the good in all of this darkness?
The truth is, there is no darkness without light.
There are no shadows without the sun.
The man waiting for his wife to be treated…he is the light.
The thinkers and the doers…they are the light.
The world in peaceful protest for equality, justice, and unity…we are the light.
The peace that comes with death after a life well lived…this is light.
The warrior who fights for her recovery…she is the light.
The mother or father who silently carries their fear and pain to provide and to love without condition…they are the light.
The children who laugh and play, love and forgive, explore and rest, hug you, see you as you are and love you anyway…they are the light.
You are the light.
Your resilience, your fight, your kindness, your empathy, your compassion, your perseverance…you are the light.
So while 2020 will forever be the year of the pandemic, the year of tragedy and unrest and pain, the year the world retreated: let 2020 also be the year of awakening. The year you recognize your hardiness, your strengths, and your goodness. The year you love yourself with humility and grace so much that it floods over to those around you.
Let 2020 be the year we celebrate humanity for never giving up on hope.
No matter what comes next, let the shimmer of your tears remind you that the light is there in your darkness.
Do you see it now?