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Columns

Trying to find the happy in an awful situation

News editor Aimee Barrows
News editor Aimee Barrows

Going through the archives on a whim last week, I came across a column I wrote that appeared on the Kane County Chronicle website on Jan. 1, 2020. Ahh, how naive I was then. But who could’ve known the entire world was about to be turned upside down in two short months?

My exact words, which appeared toward the end of my musings about the coming year and new decade, were: “But it’s exciting to start thinking about the possibilities that the 2020s will bring.”

I laughed to myself as I read that. And while I still remain hopeful and excited about the rest of the decade, I have pretty much given up for this year. As many of the memes floating around social media have aptly expressed: 2020 stinks. And I, probably like many others, want this year to end. I want my “normal” life back. I want the world to carry on like it was in February (before we knew about the silent spread of this plague).

I’ve been struggling to adequately express my thoughts and emotions about this disastrous situation we find ourselves in – a global pandemic that has killed more than 140,000 Americans in just a few months. When the virus began emerging in mid-March, my first emotion was incredulous anger – anger about the cancellation of the Big Ten and NCAA college basketball tournaments, which I realize was very shortsighted and selfish, considering the looming devastation the virus would bring.

That anger quickly turned to profound sadness as the days and weeks unfolded, when I began to realize the gravity of what was happening. Sadness that my life, my children’s lives and basically 99% of the global population’s lives changed in the blink of an eye. The health and economic crises that were unfolding led me to sink into a sense of hopelessness that I’ve never felt before.

Now that things seem to be slowly returning to some sort of new normalcy, (that is, unless infections once again spike in Illinois and we go back to a lockdown), I’ve been trying to focus on the happy. Despite so many negatives, there have been some good things that have come out of this unprecedented situation.

First, I’ve saved a lot of money by not getting bi-weekly manicures or getting my hair colored, not using makeup everyday, not buying new clothes, not paying for after-school child care and not driving into an office. All of that has allowed me to pay off debt and beef up my savings accounts.

Second, I’ve spent more time with my kids. I won’t lie –áI can’t wait for them to be back in school (mine will be attending in-person this fall) – there have been some really nice bonding moments with each of them since the stay-at-home order went into effect. Namely, a road trip out west with my teenage sons.

Lastly, the mental and emotional strength I feel I’ve gained while navigating these uncharted waters. There have been more than a few times I’ve had complete breakdowns, sitting on the floor sobbing and wondering if life as we knew it was over. After the tears dried, there was calm. And with that calm came the realization that we are resilient and we can get through this. It may not always be fun, and it certainly won’t be easy, but, really, what other choice do we have beside moving forward with our lives the best we can under the circumstances?

I’m going to try to remain optimistic that science and technology will come through with advances in testing, treatment and maybe even a vaccine. I’m optimistic that maybe we can soon go back to our pre-pandemic lives, and I never have to hear the words “social distancing” ever again.

Until then, here’s to hope that more good will come out of this horrible situation.

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