CRIER NARRATIVE: This pandemic has forced me to experience the fear of loss

Gage Hoekstra, Page Editor

Each one of us has faced a year surrounded by hardship and tragedy, and yet when I look back to reflect on my experience I still don’t know if that’s truly sunk in. 

At first it was just a part of small talk, no different than sports or the weather. It was news, but only in so far as it filled the silence. Then it came closer. Game’s were being cancelled, events were being postponed, but still it felt like more of a happening to discuss than something to fear. One by one schools closed down. When it was finally announced that we’d be sent home, though no one knew for how long then, it was almost a cause for celebration. Kids ran through the halls, overjoyed at the idea of momentary freedom. This was a break yes, but at the cost of something that had and was consuming lives. Even then I understood the self-interested and almost cruel nature of such celebration, but I made the choice to suspend such thinking just long enough to join in.

I’d like to say that I’ve changed. I’d like to say that my initial reaction was juvenile and shortsighted and that I’ve since grown from it. But the truth is I’m not sure I ever stopped thinking that way. This pandemic has forced me to experience the fear of loss, and to witness the way it can devastate those I care for firsthand. I understand the tragedy of this event, and yet even so I still often can’t help but think of it in terms of how it’s affected me. I can’t imagine two and a half million of anything, much less lives being snuffed out. I still can’t help but to think of the events of this year as topics of conversation, as scary news that I can’t come to be scared of, as an anomaly rather than a tragedy. 

If there’s anything I take away from this year, I hope it’s an understanding of how to view things like this. Not as statistics or pieces of news, but as human stories with human victims. I’ve been one of the lucky ones. I haven’t had to experience the trauma and loss of so many, but even so I want to remember it. I think it’s just now that the anguish and tragedy of this year is really beginning to settle in for me, and I for one am glad. I want it to be as real as it possibly can, so that next time I’m more prepared to try and make a difference.