According to this week’s news, the extreme safety measures put into place around the world during the pandemic have saved an estimated 3.1 million lives across 11 European countries, including 500,000 in the United Kingdom. They have also prevented an estimated 60 million coronavirus cases in the U.S. One of them could have been mine. Or yours.
It is a year that I am not sorry to see go. The personal losses have been too high, the political climate too volcanic, the rewards of hard work seemingly too few and far between. So it was only fitting that my husband broke a rib one day before Christmas, temporarily confining him to the couch, and we all got sick.
Like many, I woke up on Easter to the tragic news of the terrorist bombing in Sri Lanka. Having buried a daughter and my mother, I can only imagine the grief gripping those who lost children, spouses or parents in the blasts. Whole families were obliterated, but the victims included more than the terrorists’ targets.
I was helping at my children’s school last Friday, when one of the first graders raced up to me, arms open wide, and gave me a hug. Then she thrust a piece of paper into my hands. “I LOVE YOU!” said the giant, red words with a picture of a smiling girl underneath.
“This is for me?” I asked, surprised.
Grinning, she nodded.
Crisscrossing strands of white lights dangled from the 200-year-old rafters of my friend Jenny’s barn. In one corner, pinecone angel ornaments hung from a fresh-cut tree. A picnic table at the end of the room held paper cups of markers and scissors, ready for the children and parents who squashed up the rain-soaked hillside last weekend to celebrate the launch of my first children’s picture book, The Christmas Cradle. After nearly two decades of spending much of my free time alone, clacking computer keys in the fragile hope that what I wrote would someday be published, last week’s party was a true delight.