Updated: Mar 12
It's late in the evening. You and your friends are in your backyard, chatting the hours away. The ambiance is delightful: everyone’s wrapped up in warm blankets and drinking endless mugs of hot cider, and the air is punctured by the crackling of wood chips and rambunctious laughter. The view above you is breathtaking, as if an artist had canvassed the entire sky with vibrant shades of red, orange, and pink. As the last rays of the sun sink beneath the horizon, you all make s’mores, toasting marshmallows over an open flame.
“It’s almost November...” one of your friends says, spearing yet another marshmallow with a pointed skewer, “...only two more months until the new year.”
“The new decade!” another corrects. “The Roaring 20s.”
“I wonder what the world’s going to be like.”
Someone scoffs. “It’s only a few months from now—it’s not like anything will change!”
“You don’t know that! You don’t have 2020 vision!”
Eventually, the conversation dies down in tandem with the flames. When the clock strikes twelve, all that’s left is the barest of embers. Your friends leave one by one, driving back to their respective homes. “We have to do this again one day,” you say to each of them. But as October fades into November, as you all try to make more plans, life keeps getting in the way. There are family obligations to meet, last-minute work-shifts to take, and nights to spend studying. December rolls around, and you’re caught up in the stress of holiday gift shopping and maintaining your grades. You spend the entirety of winter break with your family up north like you do every year, cooking meals with your 76-year-old grandmother who’s beaten breast cancer twice and singing carols with your older cousin who’s 5 months pregnant.
You greet the new decade surrounded by loved ones, bursting with anticipation for what the world has in store for you. As you light your sparklers and gaze up at the night sky, you realize that this is the decade when everything changes. This is the decade when you’re turning eighteen, when you leave the small town where you were born and raised your entire life to go to college, when you get your degree, when you move into your own place for the first time. This will be your defining decade, with joy that has yet to be felt, friends that have yet to be met, and memories that have yet to be made. You’ll be ready for all of life’s twists and unsuspecting turns. Bring it on, 2020.
It’s safe to say that you weren’t ready. No one was. On a global scale, no one was expecting the coronavirus pandemic, which has taken over 2.4 million lives (and counting) as of February of 2021. It began as a small spark but spread like wildfire, spreading devastation everywhere it touched. It changed everything—and it’s only been a year. With pharmaceutical achievements such as the Moderna and Pfizer vaccinations being authorized for mass distribution, there have been some estimates that we will go back to a state of relative normalcy by the end of 2021. Yet does “normal” mean that the world will return to the way things were before? After all, burns can heal, but not all scars fade—some injuries are etched far too deeply upon the human spirit. The coronavirus has made its way into every facet of our existence, engulfing any semblance of our previous way of living in its fiery wrath. It’s affected every aspect of our collective lives, and we as a world will be dealing with its ramifications in the years to come.
The coronavirus has irreparably altered the vitality of countless individuals. We mustn’t discount the devastating loss of millions of lives: mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, and friends who were taken from the world far too soon. However, a sole fixation on COVID-19’s mortality rate does a disservice to anyone who has suffered from increased morbidity—people who were once-healthy, with hopes and dreams and aspirations just like any of us, who eventually recovered from this deadly disease but will never be the same.