When we piece together what we’ve been through since last March — from those first few anxious weeks of confinement and closure to months of prolonged isolation and loss — it’s hard to identify anything worth taking with us into this new year.
It’s been a year of rampant loneliness. A year of hands left unheld, like those of our elderly who spent months cocooned in their rooms yearning for a loved one’s familiar touch. Or the unheld hands of mothers-to-be who said goodbye to their partners in the hospital car park before admitting themselves, while frightened and in pain, to a busy labour ward. The unheld hands of those who fought illnesses alone and were denied the chance to be held one last time when they passed away in the tender presence of an exhausted nurse. The unheld hand of someone’s son, sister, parent, or friend who lost their battle with mental illness amidst a world in isolation.
In our communities, we've felt the ripples of these losses. We're grateful still for the doctors and nurses, the essential workers and the volunteers, who linger by the bedsides of our vulnerable when we cannot. Yet the moments we've missed or have been unable to share continue to haunt us as we head wearily into another lockdown.
If we must bring something with us, however, let it be the ways we've learned to hold each other, even with our hands tied and doors shut. The way we give our love and time and express gratitude to people we will never physically meet. Let’s build on the connections we've forged, from behind screens and masks, with neighbours, teachers, caregivers, colleagues — those we mightn't have really seen before.
Yes, some of us made bad choices; some chose to risk the health of others, incite hatred and fear. But many of us have done the best we can. Many of us have opened our hearts to people, causes, and alternative ways of living in order to protect our communities. We have held onto hope for a cure in this new year, so that we may hold the ones we love again in their darkest moments. So that we might find comfort once more in the unmasked smile of a stranger, strength in the embrace of an old friend, or joy in the presence of a loved one currently isolating at home or abroad.
And if 2020 was a year full of difficulty, grief and profound loss for you, we hope that this one brings you some kind of respite or peace.
From our Xplore community to yours, we wish you a very happy, safe and prosperous new year.