By JENNIFER STEUER
I had no idea last year when I was looking at a 2020 calendar and writing in all the birthdays, anniversaries and happy events coming up that so many would end up being cancelled or postponed indefinitely. In 2019, I didn’t know about Google Classroom, Zoom or the amount of time we would all spend watching the news praying for better days. There are 366 days in 2020, but it felt like more than triple that.
In January, my babies turned 12! We were planning for their birthday parties for a month or so, and they had a great time with their friends. The sleep-deprived girls had breakfast and talked about the same kind of things my 12-year-old friends and I talked about. There was giggling and whispering over hot chocolate and coffee. When Ben’s friends came over later in the day, he was full of beans! They played video games and enjoyed ice cream cake. I saw a world of possibilities on their faces, and the future was bright.
In February, our family went on a fabulous adventure to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. We drove down to New Jersey, listening to music and talking about how our families came to be in America. We walked the same hall as Harlan’s grandmother. We looked out into the ocean, watching the sun bounce off the water imagining what it felt like to leave everything behind and start life over in a completely new place. We tripped over one another’s words painting a story of what life might have been like for Jewish immigrants.
March always flirts with spring before finally leaving winter behind. Snow boots and winter coats are lined up with wind breakers and sneakers. I watched the garden plot from the windows and daydreamed about all the veggies! Then everything shut down. Harlan and I watched the 11 o’clock news with our door shut and the kids asleep. The number of people infected and dying from Covid-19 kept going up.
April brought the reality that Albany was shut down indefinitely. Benjamin, Rebecca and Olivia kept up with their school work.
May was more of the same. Could they see friends soon or start up Scouts again? All appointments had been cancelled until further notice. We learned more about one another and got on every last nerve available as we searched for some place to be alone. We tried new recipes, crafts, books and puzzles.
In June, sixth grade was completed. Summer was upon us. There were no trips to Connecticut to see my sister and her family. There were no water park or playground trips. There were no road trips. Very few of our summer fun places were open: no library, no roller skating, no ice cream. No. No. No. I felt like all I said to the kids was “no.”
September brought a new school year and an overwhelmed education system. Families became IT help for one another. We leaned on one another, trying to understand new online schedules and how the lack of funds from Washington, D.C. was going to impact our schools, teachers and students.
October and November seemed to melt together. Did Halloween happen? We have been wearing masks for more than seven months! The 2020 Election brought change. Thanksgiving meant so much more.
December will close 2020, a year that has proven to be a monumental challenge for all of us. Nothing can erase the sight of mobile refrigerator units acting as makeshift morgues outside of hospitals. No one can erase the stress every first responder, nurse, doctor, orderly, funeral director and social worker felt. The sound of tears falling to the floor after getting the call that a loved one died alone will never fade. I don’t know if the isolation each person has endured can ever be erased.
As we ring in 2021, Times Square will remain empty, but if we look closely at the frigid space, there is something, the same thing was found inside Pandora’s Box after it was opened: HOPE.
Jennifer Steuer is an Albany mom whose busy household includes her husband, Harlan, and 12-year-old triplets Olivia, Benjamin and Rebecca. Follow her on Instagram: jennifersteuer.