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Dear 2020: You showed us who was boss, but also gave us humanity and compassion

2020 gave us nine months of unimaginable disorientation — but also revealed humanity and compassion.

A student walks past a mural encouraging the wearing of face masks amid the coronavirus pandemic, on the main road of Nusseirat refugee camp, central Gaza Strip, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020. The Arabic reads: “protect yourself.”
Adel Hanna, Associated Press

Dear 2020,

When we ushered you in on Jan. 1, we were filled with hope, gladness and excitement. You gave us about 312 months of warnings or a false sense of security. Then you showed up like a rage-filled assailant who had something to prove, or a restless teacher with an urgent lesson.

Some say you waited until this year to arrive, because 2020 is synonymous with vision and sight and you wanted to send us a message. This was quite calculating and clever of you.

You gave us nine months of unimaginable disorientation. From scrambling for toilet paper to protesting injustice to recounting ballots, our needs and priorities were constantly shifting.

You were an unwieldy formidable force. You were a stalker, a chameleon and very indiscriminate. You were foreboding. You hid among us. You controlled us. You protected us. You kept us off balance — sometimes wondering when the other shoe was going to drop. No one was off limits.

You shook us up. You got our attention. You made an imprint on our conscience. You have impacted at least four generations. You will undeniably be in every science, social, history, medical and entertainment book in the world. Some might muse in folly to add an addendum to the Bible to include your many unprecedented feats, commotions, deeds and effects.

Your 365 days will be studied by scholars, preserved in archives and preached over pulpits. More gravesites will possess your year than any other year.

Some weeks you were like the annoying guest, who refused to leave even after we cleared the table, washed and put away the dishes and turned off a light. Other weeks, you were like a merciless warden, who walked by our locked cell, jingling the freedom keys. Then, there were the weeks of nonstop, unsolicited, spam-like events, with the most recent situation eclipsing the last one and selecting “decline” was not an option.

We dare not call you names, but with all due respect, you were something else. You made our blood boil and our pressure rise. You made us grind our teeth, crack our knuckles and swear that we would stop swearing.

As we approach the end of our time with you, some of us are a little heavier. We have gained some stay-at-home COVID-19 pounds. We are intellectually heavier from all we have learned about racism, elections and vaccine testing. Our hearts are heavy for the losses suffered from coronavirus.

As you were showing us who was the boss and taking us to the school of humility, you also showed us that you were not a completely soulless presence. You showed us humanity and compassion. Thank you for the frontline, health care and essential worker heroes. Thank you for the parents who worked from home, while they taught their children online. Thank you for the allies who defended and supported Black people. Thank you for helping us find our strength, courage and voice. Thank you for the outpouring of generosity and giving for food banks, families and funerals.

We cannot erase you. We don’t have the power to banish you. We resist the impulse to impatiently hold the door open and shove you out on Dec. 31. No, we are not going to be ungracious hosts. We are going to respectfully bid you adieu, walk you to your car, make sure your seat belt is buckled and wave goodbye as you drive away. We will peer from our window and make sure, as they say in the South, you are good and gone.

When we see your brake lights disappear in the distance, we will take a long deep breath, drop to our knees and thank the good Lord — for your presence, and most certainly your departure.

Goodbye, 2020. We release you. Happy New Year, everyone!

Theresa A. Dear is a strategist at The Human Capital Strategy Group and a national board member of the NAACP. Visit her website at theresaadear.com.