One year ago this week the way we lived our lives changed.
From the closure of businesses, schools, government offices and more, to the cancellation of athletic events, concerts, festivals, and much more day-to-day life as we knew it changed overnight.
It was a week which started with moving the clocks forward, had a full moon in the middle and ended with a Friday the 13th that will have forever impacted the country.
Families and friends were told to no longer visit with one another. We all learned the term “social distancing” and that apparently toilet paper is the most important thing to purchase in a pandemic. Smiles, handshakes, hugs and friendly conversations were replaced with masks, air hugs, bumping elbows and other greetings which decreased contact between individuals. The office workplace and face-to-face meetings were replaced by work from home and Zoom. The traditional classroom learning environment was replaced by remote learning.
You would be hard pressed to find anyone who has not been touched in some way by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Whether it was missing out on a birthday celebration, the dream vacation you had planned, that last ball game of senior year, or simply spending time with loved ones, it is safe to say the past year has not been what anyone would have planned or hoped for.
Some have lost loved ones to the virus, or even battled it themselves. Even if you haven’t personally tested positive for the virus, a loved one, friend or neighbor probably has. With a total (as of Wednesday) of 1,406 cases in Meigs County in the past year that means approximately one in every 16 people in the county have tested positive for the virus. In Mason County, the number is a little more than 1 in 15, while in Gallia County it is approximately 1 in 13. Many more have spent time in quarantine, isolated away from friends and family.
Looking back on where we started to where we are now, there are many ways to view the past 12 months.
For some it has been a difficult and trying year, for others it has been life-changing, for some it may not have felt much different, for others it brought family time they may not have otherwise had.
For me, it has taught me to appreciate the little things that I took for granted like a spring Saturday at the ball fields, Easter Sunrise Service with family, putting my toes in the sand, live music along the river, a walk around town in between articles and much more.
It has also taught me to value time with family. We are fortunate that our “COVID bubble” was able to include close family members who we could still see on a regular basis. Many have not been as lucky with family scattered around the state or country. I look forward to the day when family time returns to what it was. When people can hug one another without fear of a virus; when relatives can visit loved ones at nursing homes without a glass between them, a mask or six feet of distance.
Let’s not pretend that it has been easy. Work from home and remote learning under the same roof, even if we had the best internet and time management, was and is a challenge for all involved.
As we enter year two of COVID, it is important to look toward the future with hope and positivity.
Case numbers continue to decline (Meigs County went five days with out a case this week!), a reachable goal has been set for the removal of health orders in Ohio, and more people are being vaccinated every day.
With so much negativity on social media, and in the world in general, find something to make you smile, better yet, do something to make someone else smile.
Pay it forward; thank that person who has been on the frontline of the pandemic since day one; thank a teacher who has had to navigate the world of remote learning right along with his or her students; be kind to the grocery worker who asked you to please wear a mask; remember that small business which has struggled to survive the past year.
Be patient and kind with one another. You may never know what the past year has been like for them or what the upcoming year will bring.
Sarah Hawley is managing editor of The Daily Sentinel.