But honestly, that's not what my heart wants to write about today.
Instead, I want to tell the story of how scared I was this year.
I feel vulnerable sharing this. I know there may be readers who think I should focus on being grateful, who would be quick to point out that many others had it far worse than I did, who would remind me that being an adult means sucking it up and doing what you gotta do. These things are all true. And so was the debilitating fear I felt.
Last summer, I had a daily stomachache. I couldn't sleep more than a few hours at a time. I walked through my house a lot, wandering room to room. My thumbs ached from refreshing the news app on my phone, simultaneously desperate for more information and filled with a sickening dread for what it may hold. I thought of my husband and my daughters. I thought of my mother. I thought of the years of memories I made nurturing class after class of children, how much of myself I poured into every single moment of my career. I asked myself so many questions: How do I define a life well-lived? What does it mean to be a good mother? Who am I outside of my work? I did hours of yoga in my basement; I came to anticipate that the first deep breath of each practice would inevitably unlock some need to cry. I learned that sometimes what I needed most was to sit on my mat in the darkness, breathe in, and just cry.
I was as scared as I have ever been.
The closest comparison I can think of is the night of 9/11, swaddled in blankets in my Manhattan dorm room, no sleep to be had and no way to get off the island. It's the most primal fear, planted deep in our reptile brains, the ancient and constant recognition that life ends. Fight or flight. But every waking minute?
Our bodies weren't made for that.
If you know me, you know how this story ends. I masked up. I practiced radical self care. Little by little, I got used to things, and joy and love became my baseline emotions again. Yet...
As we scurry to list all the good things we want to keep from this year, I want us to remember that this was also a year of collective trauma.
Yes, we did it. Yes, we found the positives. Yes, we should celebrate. And we also need to anticipate, both in ourselves and in our children, the healing that will need to be done on the other side of survival mode. It will be hard. It will require just as much compassion and grace as last spring and summer. I also know we can do it.
But only if we first recognize that it is happening.