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Posted: January 1, 2021

Take forward from this past year all you have missed

By Stephanie Stevens

Op-Ed Commentary

The year that will go down in infamy.

And yes, it was a tough one. But there are things we can take forward from it.

In Canada we enjoy freedoms others long for. While anti-maskers and naysayers of COVID-19 shout plandemic, howl about conspiracies, lecture about the move to take away our freedoms and calling anyone following guidelines sheep, right or wrong, what they are really demonstrating is one of the very freedoms we enjoy.

But this is not about who is right.

This is about Gigi who wants to hug her dad who is in a nursing home and can’t. It is about my grandchildren who want to play with friends, and their parents who have to explain why they have to stay home. It is about my friends Shannon and Teena and their fellow doctors and nurses who by nature of their chosen careers willingly walk up to the front lines each day, and it is teachers trying to manage children who don’t truly understand.

It is about my dear friend Betty, who because of health issues cannot risk becoming infected and has stayed home for months. It about my father who lives alone in a building filled with other people afraid to interact, and my mom and stepdad who miss being able to escape the city and come stay on the ranch for a visit. It is about people who are struggling to stay afloat financially, businesses closing their doors, food banks trying to meet this new and often dire need. It is about those struggling with a mental illness and cut off from their support systems, it is about all the business owners like my friend Dee who loses sleep worrying about how to keep her doors open and ensure her employees have a job, and Bobbi, who despite her own worries about her business took the time to rescue me from a panic one last-summer day.

It is about not being sure what to believe with this new unknown, but knowing we have to take it seriously. It is about the barrage of conflicting information. It is about people dying alone. It is about their loved ones who cannot be with them at the end.

And this is about my friend Richard, who inspired this. I read his post this New Year’s Eve morning about how he wept thinking of how much he missed the simple act of hugging his friends when he sees them in the street.

It is about all the things we have taken for granted. The simplest of acts: embracing a friend, shaking a hand, seeing a smile. It is about just going for a coffee or walking freely though a deliciously crowed market.

No matter what you believe, believe this: after this year, we can never take these things for granted again. We are doing all “the things” to protect our most vulnerable. We are navigating new waters, and there is the inevitable rebellion against it. Do not take that freedom to rebel for granted either.

Take forward from this past year all you have missed. Take forward the knowledge that we made it, a little bruised, a little tattered, a little extra steel in our spines, but we made it. Take forward hope, and love, and light… and lend a helping hand, literally or figuratively, to those who need it.

I wish good things for all of you, Neverland.

Blessed be.

– Stephanie Stevens is a Columbia Valley-based writer and photographer.

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