One year ago from Friday, I walked into my beautiful office for what I didn’t know would be the last time for a very very long time. I drove to work that day with a giant pit in my stomach. I wasn’t sure what this COVID thing really was yet but I had a feeling it wasn’t good, and I had a feeling that what they were going to tell us at work that day wouldn’t be good either.
For whatever reason, I barely packed up my desk. I took the bare minimum of what I needed, still thinking I would be back eventually, even if it wasn’t going to be in the 2 weeks they were sending us home for. My calendar there is forever frozen in time…stuck on March 2020. My sign board behind my desk still says “Happy 2020!”
Now here we are, a year later. A year of almost total and utter hell. A year of more change than I could sometimes handle, despite every day being like Groundhog Day where I do the exact same thing over and over again. A year of not seeing most of the people I care most about. A year of not doing the small things or the big things that always brought me so much joy. A year of not being able to go into the office that I loved so much. A year of so many days filled with not even wanting to get out of bed. A year of so many tears. A year of feeling completely and utterly abandoned by not just people that were once close to me, but by my entire country.
A year ago today, was my first day working from home. My 1st day of Zoom meetings. It happened all where I still am on this day in 2021…on the dining room table at my parents’ house where I’m living now temporarily.
A year ago today, a vaccine seemed like the furthest possible thing. I don’t think we’d even started talking about it yet. People weren’t wearing masks yet. We were all scrambling just to find food and toilet paper.
Today, exactly a year later, I got my 1st vaccine. I didn’t feel like this day would ever come, but especially not this quickly. Even today, waking up anxiety-ridden, I was sure something was going to go wrong and I wouldn’t be able to get it. I thought they would turn me away for not looking disabled enough or because they weren’t doing our group yet. So much has gone so wrong in the last year that I just didn’t want to let myself believe something good might happen.
But good it did. Not only was everyone incredibly nice, I got my vaccine with zero wait and zero issues (other than the wrong name on my vaccine card) and my second appointment already set up. I had to fight back the tears a couple of times (water + face mask = no good) and I can safely say there’s never been a shot that I’ve been happier to have had. Sitting there waiting for 15 minutes to make sure that I didn’t have an adverse reaction felt like a triumph. My Band Aid on my arm feels like a badge of honor.
I know that the vaccine isn’t a fix-all. There’s still a long road ahead of trying to figure this thing out. A lot risk analysis that’s going to have be made on a constant basis. A lot of things I’m still not going to be able to do. But what that little syringe did was give me back some hope. A hope that’s been utterly absent in me this past year.
A lot of things have let me down and a lot of people have let me down since March 2020, but science hasn’t. Doctors and nurses haven’t. My true friends haven’t. My parents haven’t. Many coworkers haven’t. My job hasn’t.
I’ve said more than once during all of this that it felt like my life ended on March 13, 2020. In a lot of ways, I still think it did. But what ended was really just that version of life. I’m hoping this is the start of a new kind of life, however different it may be than the one before. I don’t mean that to sound callous to all of the people who actually have lost their lives or to families who have lost a loved one. The sheer amount of death that’s occurred in the last year is forever inexcusable, and a lot of those who died are people like me, people with disabilities. We had the chance to do better and we didn’t. But I hope now at least, that the vaccine can offer some relief from this hell.
Thank you to all the researchers, scientists, doctors, and nurses who made this day possible for so many of us. A blog post isn’t even a quarter of the thanks that you deserve for everything you’ve done and been through this past year. I may not have gotten sick from COVID, but you saved my life from COVID all the same.