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  • Rachel Chin

On this day last year

This week marks one year since the coronavirus pandemic hit our lives. It’s hard to believe it’s been a year already, and yet 2019 feels like a lifetime ago. My heart feels heavy today as I reflect on the impact this virus has had on our world. I’m watching thick snow fall outside my Colorado home, and it seems a fitting time to record some of these memories, while they are still fresh in my mind.


One year ago, March 13, 2020, is a memorable day for me. It was a Friday.


It’s the last day I dropped my kids off for school before their scheduled break. It’s the day area schools announced an extended (three week) spring break, which then turned into remote school for the rest of the school year.


It’s the day my work announced a test work-from-home day, which then turned into a work-from-home year.


It’s the day I stood in line with my neighbors for 45 minutes waiting to checkout my cart at the local grocery store, and none of us had toilet paper or paper towels in our carts because ALL the shelves on that aisle were empty.


It’s the day the United States declared coronavirus a national emergency, and two days after the World Health Organization declared it a world pandemic.


On this day in 2020, CNN reported 132,500 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the world, with 1,668 in the United States and less than 25 in Colorado. The very first confirmed U.S. case was reported in Washington state less than two months prior. Almost 5,000 deaths were recorded worldwide at this point.


Across the globe, businesses closed, schools closed, air travel was banned, the Olympic games were postponed, streets and parking lots were left vacant of cars. Cities enacted mandatory lock-downs in a desperate attempt to slow the spread of coronavirus and prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed.


Within weeks, the pandemic put nearly 10 million Americans out of work, including a staggering 6.6 million people who applied for unemployment benefits in that last week of March.


The coronavirus pandemic ticker showing ‘total cases’ and ‘number of deaths’ became a permanent fixture on our news programs.


I told my kids not to worry, children don’t often get sick, it’s mostly the older adults that we have to protect. I hoped this was true.


A trip to the grocery store felt a little like going off to war. In the early days, we made a decontamination zone in our garage so we could wipe down all groceries before bringing them inside the house.


Grocery pickup and deliveries quickly surged. Curbside delivery and take-out were the preferred choice, and sometimes the only choice, for retail shops and restaurants.


Grocery workers and medical personnel became our heroes. We went outside and howled in the evenings to show our support for them and other front-line workers.


My family moved twice in 2020. I still don’t know if the non-stop packing/unpacking and endless details added to my stress level or helped to distract me from being too overwhelmed by it.


Weeks turned into months, and we all just kept moving forward, putting one foot in front of the other, doing what needed to be done.


We muddled through remote school, hybrid school and quarantines. We mastered ZOOM and Microsoft Teams and a million school websites while hosting virtual happy hours.


Birthday parties turned into drive-by car parades.


We all learned how to wear a face mask, and we practiced social distancing.


By December, two new vaccines were released in the United States -- Pfizer and Moderna, quickly followed by Johnson-and-Johnson two months later.


Today, March 13, 2021, total coronavirus cases in the world, according to Johns Hopkins, are 119,358,400; in the United States: 29,387,747; in Colorado: 441,511. But the most awful statistics are the number of deaths due to this virus, which currently sits at 2,644,428 globally, with 533,937 in the U.S. and 6,072 in Colorado.


Along with many others, my family mourned the loss of loved ones from afar this past year, as travel bans and gathering restrictions limited our ability to mourn together.


Like commemorating the death of a loved one, it’s important to recognize the significance of this present moment. To remember the details. To acknowledge what has happened in the past year, what has changed in your life, and how you feel about that. Where were you when coronavirus hit? How did it impact you? Take a few minutes out of your weekend and have a conversation about that.


Because much like the spring snow drifts building outside my window, the weight of the last year is heavy. But as happens after every snowstorm, eventually the sun will emerge. The temperatures will climb. The snow will melt. And we will one day be free to venture out into the world again.


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