As this semester draws to a close and the end of one of the most unpleasantly surprising years in recent memory does as well, I find myself reflecting on the ups and downs of the past nine months.
I was taking an International Health course in the Spring and in January, my professor began sending our class news reports coming out of China, talking about something called “coronavirus.”
I was sitting in my Wednesday evening class in March when the news broke that Slippery Rock would not be participating in any Spring Break travel, devastating students and faculty members alike.
The following weekend I was visiting an Easter display with my two oldest daughters when it was announced that they would be moving to virtual learning for “two weeks”.
And that was officially the end of my life as I had known it.
Suddenly, my family of seven was sequestered in our three story home for what would be the longest season of our lives.
No school, no work, no church or dance. No gymnastics or theater or birthday parties. We spent Easter separated from our loved ones, and trucked through virtual learning with the elegance and grace of an elephant doing ballet.
I can hardly recall most details from this time, because it was truly like living on autopilot.
As the seasons changed and the air grew warmer, the kindness of summer allowed many of us to enjoy the presence of a more “normal” life.
School began for SRU in late August and three days later my own children returned to school for in-person learning.
It felt like a dream come true that we could all be doing something that I admittedly had taken for granted in the past.
Months flew by and we began to see a surge in what we all most likely think of as a “four letter word” and despite many of our hopes for a better fall, we see a nation once again struggling to get a firm grasp on a virus that seems to have boundless energy and determination.
I have family members that have had it, others that have passed away and many more that are simply terrified to leave their houses.
Whether or not you believe you are susceptible to the grasp of COVID-19, you must acknowledge that the fear encompassing those around us is palpable. It is real.
So, what can we do to ensure our survival in these times of unimaginable chaos, confusion and tragedy?
We can choose to be kind to one another. We can appreciate one another’s differences but respect one another’s humanity. We can set an example to those around us that even when things get tough or scary, we are still human beings. We can still laugh, cry and love and we should not allow any virus, illness or time of peril rob us of that.
I have never thought of myself as a “glass half-full” kind of girl (in fact most of my family members will tell you that my level of negativity could rival even the most down of any debbie downer), but in times like this I am finding myself wanting to look on the bright side, and remain hopeful that this, too, shall pass.
So, fellow classmates of SRU, congratulations on enduring one of the hardest moments of your life, while also tending to the most important stepping stone of your future careers.
Have a great, and safe break, and I hope that when we all meet again in January things will be better.
I really, truly believe they will be.