Where does one start when looking back at 2020?

We have the pandemic and all the hardship and heartbreak it has wrought, riots in the streets of our nation, unfathomable behavior by some in our nation’s leadership, a long-overdue call to end systemic racism and violence against people of color at the hands of law enforcement, and an election in which tens of millions of Americans would have held little confidence regardless of the outcome.

Yes, I know. My English teacher and more than a few journalism professors would knock my grade down a notch or two for crafting such a run-on sentence.

But, well, where does one start when trying to sum up 2020 in a nutshell?

From a strictly personal standpoint, the year past has been one of challenges, one of change and one of blessings.

Before the pandemic gained a foothold in the United States, we experienced a personal crisis in late January when Kat suffered a broken leg while visiting family in Tennessee.

Without getting into detail, hers was no garden variety broken leg. Kat was extremely limited in her abilities initially, but as the months passed and her recovery progresses she has regained more and more mobility and abilities.

Nearly a year after the initial injury the healing process continues.....with good days and not-so-good days. For all the help I try to give her, I can’t “fix it,” which is what I want more than anything. She doesn’t hold that against me, and instead reminds me to let her push her limits and test herself as the healing continues. Kat has been nothing short of remarkable through it all, and is truly an inspiration to me.

I worked from home for a time after Kat got back from Tennessee so I could be there to help her.

Little did I know that working from home would soon become commonplace for other reasons.....but that is what I did often when the pandemic first hit and our offices were closed to the public.

A major change for us both this year was simply the amount of time we spent together at home.

My work week during more normal times would often be packed with evening meetings or high school games, followed by special events on weekends.

There were busy stretches of most years when I really wasn’t around home a lot.

But while it may sound counter-intuitive, I almost feel like in some ways my job has become more challenging this year even though it involves fewer hours. In a traditional year, I could look at a calendar and pretty much map out what events, activities or special projects almost every week would bring. While the hours were longer, we also had a planner of sorts to spell out what we would be covering from one week to the next.

Now we have a much different form of “busy.”

There are still city, school, ambulance board meetings, etc., but I haven’t attended one in person since mid-March and most I attend virtually from home. We have our own routine.....I announce to Kat that I am “going to my meeting,” and again when I’m “home from my meeting,” even though each only involves going from one room to the next.

As for all the other things that normally keep me busy out and about.....high school sports are on hold, most community celebrations are either canceled or curtailed, and so much more “normal” is just in limbo.

The youth sports and other events in which Kat and I are typically involved through our photography business are also in limbo. We’ve missed those interactions. More importantly, we’ve missed seeing kids out playing sports and people being able to do the things that a year ago we took for granted.

The upshot is that I have had a lot more time at home this year than most, time that has been valuable in allowing me to pitch in to help Kat but also an opportunity for us to just tackle new projects together and to simply enjoy one another’s company.

Thankfully, I don’t think that I have driven her crazy yet. Too much, anyway. Although I’m pretty sure that some of my “help” probably tests her patience.

We have weathered this unprecedented year pretty well, I think, although some aspects have been particularly trying.

Those moments and situations, though, are insignificant compared to the devastating hardship and tragic losses that so many have suffered. Our thoughts and prayers continue to go out to all who have been so deeply impacted by this pandemic.

This year has led me to rethink that which is truly important, and to more deeply realize and understand what matters the most. In that way, it has been life-changing.

We look forward to 2021 in hopes that the pandemic will ease, that our divided nation can find healing and that we begin to see a return to normalcy. I want to see kids out playing ball, campuses teeming with activity, Fourth of July parades, a Fall Festival packing Pioneer Park. And, yes, meetings I can go to in person, and interviews that don’t have to be conducted over the telephone. That doesn’t seem like much to ask, does it, yet in another way almost seems a world away after the year we have endured.

Only time will tell.

If 2020 has taught us one thing, it is that nobody can be certain what the future holds.

Dean Harris the Managing Editor of the West Side Index and Gustine Press-Standard. He can be reached at dharris@mattosnews.com or by calling (209) 243-8104.