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I was going to title this article, “2021, F*ck You.”
Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t swear.
But 2021 pushed me to my limits. It made me feel powerless, vulnerable, and scared for my life.
From lining up to get COVID-19 tests to being taken in an ambulance ride to the emergency ward at 2:00 a.m. at night with anaphylaxis, 2021 is the year I will not forget any time soon (even though I really, really want to).
In all of my life, I have never had an allergic reaction quite so bad. The worst part? The cause is unknown, and I am on an “elimination diet” to find a cause.
And if anaphylaxis in itself wasn’t bad enough, being restricted from eating delicious foods over Christmas is an experience in itself.
Jokes aside, I am holding on to the red wristband from the hospital as a reminder of what a nightmare this year has been and how lucky I am to be alive.
I know that many of us are praying and hoping for a better year in 2022, but on the eve of the new year here in Sydney, it feels as if 2021 is trying to hold on.
Our Covid cases have risen by over 10,000 overnight, and the narrative of “personal responsibility” continues to be pushed upon us.
I quietly question the notion of personal responsibility in the view of public health and just as quietly pull my mask on a little tighter.
Whilst previous years have seen people camped out for the best spot for Sydney’s fireworks, this afternoon, the Harbour is as bare as can be.
As this evening inches closer, I wonder if people will come out as they have in previous years.
In my heart of hearts, 2022 does not look any better, and I pray that I am entirely wrong.
Sometimes, I wonder what “better” even looks like anymore. Is it a world free of Covid? Is it a united world? Is it consistent leadership?
If this year has taught me anything at all, it is that resilience is not an alternative to self-care. You are not required to pull your socks up or put on a brave face when confronted with adversity.
As I take a deep breath and a solemn sigh, I am reminded of grief—the loss of anything that means something to us.
We are grieving.
We are collectively grieving.
We are grieving the loss of our lives as we knew it.
We are grieving the plans that never eventuated.
We are grieving the future we want to have but can’t quite foresee just yet.
As we would grieve the death of a loved one, I invite us to grieve the death of all that could not be in the year that was.
Let’s grieve the moments we missed out on.
Let’s grieve the canceled plans and jobs lost.
Let’s grieve the people who are no longer with us.
2021 reminded me of my mortality.
It reminded me of how easily my plans could come to a halt and how quickly my breath could simply stop.
It reminded me that no matter how many precautions I take with my health and life, there are invisible threats that I can never prepare for.
It reminded me that toxic positivity is the last thing I want to hear when I am in the throes of grief.
And it reminded me that as much as we are together, grief is also lonely.
I encourage you to close your eyes and quieten your mind. Take a breath and acknowledge your grief.
Let 2021 rest in peace.
May 2022 be a better year for us all. May it bring us hope, love, and laughter abound.
Wishing you a safe and peaceful New Year.