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Reflecting on the Year 2020: Some Silver Linings

I suspect that it will be quite difficult for many of us to review the year we are leaving behind in a positive light. However, that is exactly the task I hope we are all willing to attempt. We know that the year itself was a collective wasteland of civil unrest, political chicanery, pandemic, and natural disasters, to name a few. But were there no happy, joyful, beautiful moments? Below I consider the best elements of a bad year, from my own perspective.

My family began the year 2020 with the funeral for and burial of my Aunt Jo. Aunt Jo was also my godmother, and in many ways I have tried to emulate her in my own life. Aunt Jo had lived a long and productive life, and she passed when she was ready. The day of the funeral was also the anniversary of the stillbirth of my daughter Alexis. Aunt Jo's body was laid to rest in a cemetery only minutes from the location of Alexis' resting place. I was therefore able to head over to my daughter's grave and say Happy Birthday in person. I had a bit of a tradition when I was living in New York of going to each of my two children's graves on their birthdays . I feel like Aunt Jo gave me a final gift in ensuring that I would be home to visit them on Alexis' birthday.

In March, just before the world shut down due to COVID-19, tornadoes ripped through Middle Tennessee, demolishing property ranging multiple counties and towns. My niece and her friends were in Nashville for Spring Break, and the motel they were staying in was directly in the path of the tornado. Once it was safe for me to travel to Nashville, I used my GPS to find the best way to get to them. I was able to park across the street, and had to walk over and around debris and downed wires to get to the room. As soon as the young ladies had gathered all of their belongings, we trudged to my car and stuffed it with bags, pillows, and twenty-somethings. I was able to help them get fed, napped, and showered, as they figured out their next moves. The important thing, the best thing, about that experience was that all four of these individuals were safe.

This year I began fostering children. There were some hiccups in the beginning, and COVID certainly made circumstances interesting. But I believe that the right person came to my home at the necessary time. The pandemic has meant that I needed to apply stipulations which I had not previously even considered, especially because I am on the list of vulnerable parties should I contract the illness. My foster child is on the list, as well. So we need to be quite careful. The use of Zoom and availability of resources at my university have aided in the process of meeting pandemic-related needs. My child has been attending school virtually. This means that our contact with people who could spread the disease to us is relatively minimal.

Aside from the pandemic-related fostering experiences, I have found that my family has fully embraced my role as a foster mom, and their role as family to my child. I cannot say that I am surprised, but I am often in awe at how much time and love they pour out, especially now. We have Zoom meetings or phone calls. My child has cousins, aunts, uncles, a grandmother and great-grandmother she might not have had otherwise. I am grateful to them, and I am glad that my child sees that she has so many supportive people surrounding her, even from afar.

The pandemic has not stopped romantic love. This year, my cousin married his long-time girlfriend on the same day that my brother renewed his vows with my sister-in-law. Later in the year, my other cousin became engaged to his girlfriend. Three sets of couples shared their love, showing that even as the world seems to be at its worst, hope for the future still exists.

This has not been the worst year of my life. It's definitely in the top five, though. Despite that fact; and despite the moments of pain, despair, anger and frustration; there have been beams of silver lining. I have shared a few of my own silver linings from the year 2020. I hope these have encouraged you to see some beauty as you look back on this year. And perhaps those moments will bring you forward into the year 2021 with positive expectations.


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