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  • Writer's pictureEmily Taylor

Annus Horribilis -- The Horrible Year

As I look back on 2020 and 2021, I am starkly reminded of the phrase annus horribilis.

Not everything was terrible, but overall, those bright spots, made all the more brilliant by the events around them, were few and far between. And, sadly, ranking the list of terrible things, the pandemic, while stretching over the course of these events, is probably not the hardest one even if it remains the most consistent one.

I look back at the blog entries from last October, when I was at least excited for the upcoming political shift and NaNoWriMo. I plotted out my writing experiment, I planned out Pun Month, and I felt vaguely optimistic. We were almost at the end of a long, dark, National nightmare. We could come together, make things better, besides, I thought, the holidays are coming up. The holidays are always my favorite. I was talking to my Dad on a daily basis. My mother-in-law was puttering around her house with my niece and her pets. The husband was checking in with her regularly, and the son was finishing up mowing the lawn for the year. We weren’t doing Halloween, or game nights, or really anything because, of course, Pandemic.

Looking back that far, even though it’s less than a year, makes my heart hurt.

In November, my father caught COVID and was sequestered. I called every day and cried on the days where he just wasn’t feeling up to talking. Just as he came through it, my mother in law collapsed the day after Thanksgiving. Sitting on the phone with my husband as he was forced to sit outside the hospital because he couldn’t go in with his mother broke my heart.

The holidays were, obviously, NOT peaceful. Dad’s home could not figure out how to work the video chats, and my mother-in-law had difficulties with technology due to her illness. We struggled through as best we could. All our usual family connections were thrown up into the air. I ended up shipping my Christmas gift to my father, and we sent a gift to my mother in law and then watched as she struggled to open them on video chat with an aide.

Our hearts hurt.

In February, my father passed away. Due to a rather complicated familial situation, I was unable to be there when he passed, and his other daughters, my half-sisters, were not and still are not, inclined to include me in information regarding his internment. I have no idea what they’ve done with his ashes. And his oldest daughter will not respond to me.

Last month, my youngest step-daughter got married. Her grandmother, my mother-in-law, was able to attend. It was obviously what she was holding on for because the following week was a rapid decline. We spent as much time as we could with her in the week following the wedding, and we tried to make sure everyone got a chance to say goodbye.

All of this is to say we have had a hell of a year. And, we’re tired. I’m not talking the yawn a bit, semi-sleepy tired. I am talking deep, bone-achingly weary exhaustion. But we are also trying to get back up and keep moving. The world doesn’t stop, and, no matter what, we have to figure out how to handle what we can.

So, here I am, slowly picking up the pieces. I don’t know what this means really, and I don’t know where we are going from here. But, I am going to try to get my brain under control and move forward. If you’re still here, I appreciate it, and I hope to give you more to read in the months to come.

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