2.2 Winter 2020-2021

Pandemic Realities

Do you remember the scene from The Princess Bride in which Inigo Montoya hears the agonized screams of Westley and says “My heart made that sound when the six-fingered man killed my father”?

I have certainly never grieved to that extent but there is something in recognizing someone’s sounds of suffering as your own.

Mr. Whitchard is a choir teacher who caught COVID-19, recovered, and then got pneumonia. (Damn.) Thankfully, he’s back at home recovering with his family.

His video appeared in a recent news stream, a river that I dived into in November and from which I have not resurfaced due to ceaseless torrents of *sweeps hands at America* everything.

In the video from his hospital bed he’s crying and saying how much he misses his students and his family. I was struck by both the open and defeated tears and his naked sadness of an empty classroom.

I think I’ve cried those same tears in both 2020 and 2021. And when I think about a classroom I lost after the first semester, all that comes to mind is what my mother said recently: the world has been changed forever.

It’s a real bummer.


2020 and 2021 are both “the new normal” and entropy at large, both the rock and the hard place. We thought we had the grease fire under control but 2021 dropped a bucket of water and the world seems to be spinning right off its axis. The sole reason I may have a job next month is because UK and South African teachers are suddenly stuck behind borders without visas.

But whenever I think COVID restrictions are frustrating or that I’ve lost opportunities to improve skating or dancing or to fall in love or that I can’t stand another year without seeing my babies’ faces in person, I’m selfishly comforted rather than discouraged that we’re all, globally, collectively, suffering. Everyone is making changes, everyone is challenged by continuous readjustment.

It’s okay to admit we didn’t accomplish everything in 2020, it’s okay that some dreams and plans had to be delayed. It’s okay to be sad for what we lost and also what we didn’t gain.

I don’t know how to do anything but keep moving forward, and I promise to continue finding all the joys that life continues to provide, even in chaos.

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