The Lost Year

As he changed our clocks to Daylight Savings Time, Phil hummed the graduation song. I’m not sure if springing forward is an occasion worthy of pomp or circumstance, but it felt oddly appropriate. At last, we’re graduating.

We wore the masks. We washed our hands. We ordered takeout. And we got our shots.

There I go, using past tense. I should say that we’re not graduating quite yet – the band is just tuning up. We’re still getting into caps and gowns. I’m dubious of anyone who tries to make a coherent, past-tense story of the pandemic right now – rising action, turning point, denouement, and whatnot. We’re still in it. Even so, I can feel it, that glimmer of moving on.     

Moving the clocks forward means we lost an hour; it feels like something similar happened to the past year. Sure, if you can read this you’ve lived through it, which is no small feat, but it feels like time lost, somehow. Movement without progress.

We lost connections. We lost loved ones. We lost a sense of security. We lost that feeling of anticipation that gets us out of bed in the morning.

But it’s not as though the past year has been a total bust. I mean, I cleaned out the basement and read some good books. We ate together as a family about every night, took plenty of walks.

Phil and I watched all 15 seasons of E.R. It began as a trip down memory lane – the series started back in ye olden days of 1994 when George Clooney and Noah Wyle were mere infants. Many months later, by the time we got into season 11 or 12, Phil and I felt as though the end of the pandemic was somehow tied up, nay, somehow mystically dependent on us finishing the entire series. We sensed that the daily bread of E.R. episodes would sustain us until the world opened back up.

In other words, we lost our minds just a smidge.

But what a great TV show. And you know what happened a few days after we finished the final episode? I got a vaccine appointment at Walgreens. (Coincidence? Probably.) The only side effects were fatigue and achy shoulders. At the same time, a weight had been lifted and light flickered at the end of the tunnel.

In springing forward, we sacrifice an hour of sleep to gain an hour of sunlight. Makes me wonder what we might gain from the troubles of the past year.

I hope that the people who’ve made great sacrifices – healthcare workers, small business owners, bone-tired educators, and all those who didn’t make the six o’clock news – will be greatly rewarded.

I hope that the arc of the moral universe takes a really sharp turn toward justice.    

I hope that the weary find rest, the traumatized find health, the humble find their reward. And I hope the arrogant fall off their high horses.

Just being honest.

If I may continue to stretch the graduation metaphor far beyond its capacity, where’s my diploma? And to what will we matriculate? The new normal? No. Please, let’s stop saying “the new normal.”

I know the normal will be strange and new. But I also know that God’s got the whole world in his hands. And throughout this extended holding pattern we’ve been held by those hands. Even when we feel frayed at the edges, those hands are hemming us in with cosmic needle and thread.

Making small talk lately, I’ve noticed a phrase coming up a lot: “It is what it is.” It’s effective when things are out of your hands. And if it is what it is, all I can do is leave it in God’s hands.

Meanwhile, I continue to sing the timeless words of “Pomp and Circumstance” that my friend taught me right before our graduation:

My camel flies sideways; your camel flies upside-down.

My camel flies sideways; your camel is dead. (Dum dum dum.)  

No year is truly lost, even so-called lost years. When we move on, let’s make the next one a year of wonder.

-Love, Em : )