2021: Walking Backward

It’s over, done, but I never knew as 2020 slogged on, the pandemic year, that I would want to hold on to it, a bit more.

When many people think of 2020, it may have been a bit easier to think of gratitude and less so of happiness.

Happiness seems to crush the reality of 2020, it seems for many many people, especially those who lost loved ones because of COVID-19.

For me, too, not because of covid. My wife died a few weeks ago of cancer and yet I hold on to 2020. Only weeks before, I was drafting a story to write off 2020 as a complete disaster. Now I miss most of 2020, of course.

In her journals over the years, and in her life, Michele, an education writer, held on to moments of gratitude and happiness that she searched and lived for, and embraced with her many friends and family members. These are things I’m trying to learn.

A decade ago, she wrote: “Happy New Year and New Decade!!!!”

“I have so much to be grateful for. I can walk, jog, think, talk, connect, sing, I can learn,” she wrote.

She mentioned about being grateful for her family and even a 22-inch snow, and to “be able to shovel snow from that snowfall!”

“Today, I’m grateful for too much work because that means I have some!” I can see her excitement in the curls of her words, the exquisite penmanship.

In a Happiness Project journal, several years later, walking still brought and continued to deliver much joy for her. “I know I shouldn’t keep writing about my walks,” Michele wrote, but they were certainly a highlight.

For me, I’m grateful for those in healthcare who worked like crazy not only for my wife but for others, during this pandemic. I’m also grateful for the cascade of cards and letters, from people who expressed sympathy and echoed reminders of the joys of being together, with her.

On a national level, I’m grateful for the glimmer of hope in the presidential election as the harsh mirage of Donald Trump eventually escapes as the pandemic will itself, and the vaccines take hold. Grateful.

Happiness, well, I’m not there.

“Times does not heal,” observed a former colleague, a wise editor who lost his wife 33 years ago. “ If anything time numbs the memories.”

As Michele would say, it’s time for a walk. – Joe Cantlupe, HealthDataBuzz

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