Looking back to the beginning of 2020, I don’t even know where to begin. It was such a whirlwind, so much happened. Kobe & Gianna Bryant, along with 7 others died in a tragic accident. George Floyd was murdered by a police officer and the whole world watched it. Covid-19 came and shut the planet down – literally. Black Lives Matter protests began. People lost jobs, lost income, and had to deal with terrible circumstances. The political fights intensified in our nation divided by issues. There was more division everywhere. The world was consumed with fear. And so many people died across the globe in a plague like never before – over 3 million due to covid. Not to mention so many other unexpected deaths in 2020 through the beginning of 2021.
While those aforementioned events and losses are some things that happened nationally and worldwide, when I look at what I personally experienced in my own life over the last 15 months, I am amazed that I came out of it and am as happy and positive as I am today. My daughter was having an awesome senior year that ended up getting ruined, and the roller coaster that came with that was not fun at all. I also had three surgeries in 2020. I was one who (and still am) extremely cautious. However, despite being extra careful, I still ended up getting covid. While I was dealing with that, my Nana was in the hospital with covid pneumonia, and others in my family ended up getting covid as well!
Although being sick and recovering was extremely difficult, the worst things that happened were losing loved ones. My uncle who I grew up with died in a tragic drowning accident while saving his daughter, and because of covid our family could not go to the Philippines for his funeral or be there with my 13 year-old cousin (his daughter). My Papa passed away on Christmas Eve in his sleep, of a heart attack. I planned my Papa’s memorial via zoom and 24 hours after that was over, the love of my mom’s life passed away after being hospitalized from covid for five weeks. I had friends pass away, many friends lost loved ones and people had to die and grieve alone because of the pandemic. There were a lot of dark moments, and heartbreaks that left a void that time cannot fill.
I am in awe by how all of the medical professionals, first responders, teachers, admin, grocery stores, and essential workers never skipped a beat during the pandemic. There is no way the world would have made it through without them. They came to work, and held us together, even while our worlds fell apart, spending hours in lines for food, gas, services, and not having all the info, but they adapted graciously…in most cases.
I am grateful to have made it to the other side of things, and as I reflect back I know that even though I was locked down and working from home, I did not survive 2020 on my own. I also know that millions of others also went through loss, depression, isolation, and survived the pandemic. How did you get through it?
There were some who faithfully stood by my side before, during and after all of it. I first would like to say thank you to my wonderful children - there's no way I could have recovered from surgeries or covid without them. I am also very thankful for my Quarantine Crews. While being sheltered in place at home, we came up with ways to connect and not go through the crisis alone. I had a few group chats with family and lifelong, childhood friends that became an open line of communication. It helped us keep up with each other, make sure everyone was okay, sometimes cry, and even laugh together. My Mom and a couple of good friends who would drop off those hard-to-find supplies, and so many of us shared useful information and our resources. I ended up joining a couple of zoom prayer groups – we prayed weekly, for everything going on, and so much more. Personally, I cannot forget my friends and family who dropped off meals for my household when I had surgery, when my grandfather passed, and when I had covid. Some of my close friends jumped on zoom with me and helped me prepare for my grandfather’s services. There were some who video chatted with me and literally cried with me. There were some individuals I developed deeper, stronger bonds with and I will be forever grateful for them.
This Thank You is for all the ones who stepped out of darkness and made it a point to be a light to others during one of the scariest times that our country and world has experienced. There were people who stepped up and made it a point to bless others while the world was falling apart. They continued to give of themselves, despite what they had going on in their personal lives and in this world around them. Thank you for all the little and big things you did to help brighten someone else's life and keep them going.
Lacee Green of Laced Fitness Studio was virtually challenging people to do 10 push-ups a day at some point and continued to go live to motivate & encourage others in health & fitness. Lacee’s personality is infectious so you can feel motivated just watching her. But her going on live regularly encouraged me to start doing wall push-ups while I was in a boot recovering from ankle surgery. This acted as a catalyst into a more regular exercise routine now that I have fully recovered. Taking good care of ourselves and being healthy was one of the biggest realities that was birthed out of the pandemic.
Comedian Denise Carter & Friends began Comedy Re-Imagined, a free virtual comedy show streaming on Friday nights. Laughter is good medicine for the soul, and this show brought happiness to others. Denise gave like many of us, despite her own loss, that of her own mother in 2020. Yet, she continued to share her gift and gave others laughter during the pandemic.
I recall that while I was bedridden recovering from ankle surgery in July 2020, I ran across Howard Hewett live on Facebook, and later learned that he was going on live every day and created a whole community (FACC – Fresh Air, Cardio, Conversation and Life) that was meeting on Facebook daily. The discussions were about health, current events, spirituality and so many other relevant topics. Out of that group another group birthed – Howard’s Girls. I got added to the group and wasn’t sure about what it was in the beginning. At first, I observed for a bit, but it is seriously one of the most beautiful group of women who are supportive, positive, uplifting women, who love music. Howard Hewett also put on Shut-In Mini-Concert Series which were full on concerts via Facebook, and they too were free. Music is a great way to make people feel good and be inspired.
There were also people who sent (and still send) daily encouragement via text message. Rodney Ivey texts a thought-provoking daily devotional every day, which are really good. Nina Wells began sending me daily scriptures shortly after my grandfather passed. There were also some other loved ones who would share inspiring word, quotes and songs that were good for the spirit. Sending me spiritual food has been vital during such a challenging season, and I am honored that is on their heart to do so. The time and effort they take to build up others is appreciated.
There were ministries that didn’t skip a beat. Our church (Miracle Center Church Ventura) had prayer with other ministries daily. They also had toilet paper and cleaning supplies available for those who had a need. One other thing I really appreciated was my pastor, Pastor Lonnie McCowan, making himself available to help me with my grandfather’s services. He did not waiver, even when dealing with losing his own father a few days after my Papa passed. He and his wife never skipped a beat with ministry – Sunday services, weekly bible study, supporting many who lost loved ones and dealt with crisis – regardless of they had going on in their own personal lives.
No one told any of the people or groups I mentioned to do the things they did to keep us moving in hopeful ways. Nobody paid them or forced them to. They gave of themselves and helped so many get through the pandemic. Their selfless acts of love and kindness do not go unnoticed. I am so thankful for them being a part of what helped me through one of the toughest years ever. I pray for each and every one of them that God returns to them what they poured out to others, and multiplies it. These, along with some of my closest friends and family are how I made it through the pandemic. Many rose up , walked in and shared love in a very real way. It was all from the heart.
Several things that were most important rose up, not only to take top priority but to help see me through the last 15 months. Those things are Faith, Family, and Friends. How did you get through the pandemic? Things have opened back up and the pace is picking back up again. Let’s not lose sight of what proved to be really important during some of the darkest times of our lives Make sure to thank those who helped you get through one of the toughest years we have experienced, yet. We cannot go back to “normal” and act like all that took place did not happen. We need to tread lightly and make some room for healing - individually, as communities, as a country and internationally. Whether it was via texting, zoom, facetiming, phone calls or letters…do not forget to thank those who showed up.
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