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  • Writer's pictureMaureen Boesen

Putting together the pieces of a broken year

Like you, this year broke me. Over and over and over again.

Perhaps it was an accumulation of social unrest, economic turmoil, and government mayhem that really did it for me.

Possibly it was that feisty little virus that resulted in homeschooling my children while simultaneously working a 50-hour workweek.

Or maybe it was the gut-wrenching presidential election that refused to end (that’s over, right?) that was my tipping point.

Certainly, it could have been the toilet paper shortage. That was some scary shit.

Perhaps it was the fear of ravenous murder hornets. The impending doom of a world controlled by a virus spawned from bats, or worse, created in a lab. Or regrettably bingeing Tiger King. (I couldn’t not watch.)

It certainly could have been the maskne.

Or, more likely than not, it was the fear of loss at every moment, of every day—my health, my job, my family, my sanity.

As I have attempted to put the broken pieces back together, I have found that I'm not the same person I was a year ago. The pieces don’t fit together quite the same. While I might look the same—albeit 5 pounds heavier, damn quarantine—I don’t feel the same.

Perhaps it was the month upon month (upon month) with my three kids, desperately attempting to entertain them when the pools and parks all closed…which taught me that spontaneous adventures ignite the imagination in our children (and the kid hidden in all of us).

Maybe it was the changing from day clothes to night clothes and back to day clothes—all just various forms of pajamas—that taught me that it's not clothes or makeup or perfectly shaped eyebrows that make us who we are. It's the willingness to put others’ health and safety above our personal desires and the empathy we have for one another despite our own challenges that reveal our truest selves.

It certainly could have been the puzzles. So many damn puzzles.

Perhaps it was the new relationships established, sometimes in the most random of places and at unexpected times, with neighbors, co-workers and, even strangers, who—with just the glance of the eye or the smallest of smiles—shared the same pain, fear and, hope.

It may have been society uniting around injustices that plagued generations in an attempt to change, not only our lives and our neighbors' lives but more importantly, our children’s lives, which taught me that, maybe—just maybe—our world is not divisive as I once believed it to be.

Or, more likely than not, it was the hope that was created by teachers who willingly stepped up to teach our littlest minds despite the daily risk of exposure, healthcare professionals who cared for our loved ones when we weren’t able to be by their sides, and distant friends who posted some of the first vaccine pictures on social media to order to inspire others of a brighter tomorrow.

I’m not the same person I was this time last year. I’m not the same mother, the same sister, the same spouse, or the same friend. And, for that, I have to thank 2020.

This year taught me how to love deeper.

It showed me how to care greater.

It helped me be braver, wiser, and at the end of the day—er, year—happier.

This year, the hardest of all the years, may not have been the worst after all. Perhaps it was an opportunity to break us of our old selves and rebuild us into kinder, softer, more loving people.


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