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Your Say: What will be your takeaways from 2020?

San Diego Union Tribune logo San Diego Union Tribune 12/30/2020 U-T Letters
an orange sunset in the background: The suns sets with the iconic span of the San Diego–Coronado Bridge in the foreground in this file photo. (Nelvin C. Cepeda / San Diego Union-Tribune) © Provided by San Diego Union Tribune The suns sets with the iconic span of the San Diego–Coronado Bridge in the foreground in this file photo. (Nelvin C. Cepeda / San Diego Union-Tribune)

We faced challenges and we persevered

2020 started out as a year of hopes and dreams for my son to be born. He was due June 11. Baby showers were planned and the spare room needed to be demolished in order to prepare for this miracle.

On March 20, the lockdown began. Things got real and soon after I went into labor. The hospital entrance was blocked by a COVID-19 tent. My son was born 2 pounds, 13 ounces, rushed to the neonatal intensive care unit and stayed until May 31 (my husband’s birthday).

Rules had changed that day. No visitors except us. Only one a day, no leaving or coming back in. The world was shut down, but we were fighting to stay strong and hoping to bring our son home. We were alone. But we made it.

And so will the world.

We will all look back and remember and tell stories about the year we learned words like social distance and wore masks. But it will always be my miracle baby’s birth year. The year we survived.

April Chambers, El Cajon

I miss the hug more than I ever imagined

His wife of 55 years, who had fought her cancer so bravely for three years, was sitting on the couch, her gaze fixed through half-opened eyes. Her breathing was nearly imperceptible, like a whisper.

He knelt down to look at her, to hold her hand, to say goodbye — tears streaking down his cheeks and ours too. Our team counseled and blessed, but we couldn’t embrace him. COVID-19 restrictions kept us at bay.

We held his grief and his gratitude for our support, but we couldn’t hold him.

As a chaplain with Mission Hospice in San Diego, I miss the hug.

I’m reminded again of what COVID-19 has taken away from us. It has stripped away a multitude of cherished things we buried in normalcy or hid in plain sight amid our breakneck paces and digitized complacencies.

But amazingly, by doing so, it gave us a contrast experience of epic proportions. It exposed all that we were inattentive about. What I’ll remember most about this unusual year is how it revealed how much I took for granted pre-pandemic and how it invited me into greater, sustained appreciation.

The experiences that have lain fallow because of the pandemic have allowed a new season of appreciation to gestate, to reveal the everyday preciousness and sacredness that we forget most of the time. What has been taken away is stored in our memories and we will celebrate it and its forgotten rhythms when the pandemic is over.

I hope to never take a hug for granted, or a shared meal, or a packed concert hall, or simply seeing someone’s unmasked face.

None of us would have chosen COVID-19 to happen. But all of us can choose what we will take out of this tragic year.

I want to keep caring for people as I’ve been called to do. I want to do the best with what I have, and at the same time take stock of what I miss.

I want that to inspire my heart to be full of gratitude. And I want that gratitude to guide my life, even when the pandemic is a distant memory.

I’ll hug to that.

Chris Sikora, Carlsbad

For San Diego, more pluses than minuses

2020, a fantastic year for San Diegans. Every year offers a few more ups then downs, but we’ve just sailed through one of the best despite the hardship endured due to the pandemic. Even the streets’ homeless residents were better treated — food and lodging. How about those nice motel rooms? Wall Street rained dollars on the just and the unjust. 2020 was a record year for the Dow, Nasdaq and the S&P 500 indices.

Property owners couldn’t pick a better place to live than San Diego in 2020. Single-family home values went up month after month to record highs versus the U.S.

Many saw their net worth climb faster than in previous years. Older home owners had the option to take a reverse mortgage, extract all their equity and live with no house payment and retire in San Diego.

Newspaper readers got the best of The San Diego Union-Tribune in 2020. With thousands more living at home during the pandemic, the paper offered more information and services than ever. Enterprising reporters covered every corner of the new world. The TV section was so much better, so complete. The paper even enlisted editorial readers to comment on various issues and kept the pages full of local matters.

2020 was a far better year driving on San Diego freeways. With so many working at home it was safer and quicker getting ... wherever. And those who had jobs working at home avoided that miserable commute of 2019 and saved the costs of operating the car. The ocean and beaches are always a plus and while 2020 kept many tourists away, those living in this paradise could find a place to park near the sand.

Sports fans may never forget 2020. That was the year the basketball Aztecs ended the season with a 30-2 record, ranked in the top 10, followed by the most exciting baseball the Padres played in years. The team had hitters who were in races for batting crowns, MVPs and rookies of the year.

The Padres finished behind the Dodgers only because they lost two of their best pitchers for the playoffs.

2020 in San Diego was another great year for the schadenfreude freaks glued to the TV news watching the hurricanes, floods, fires, tornadoes and blizzards destroying the rest of the country.

Tom Dresselhuys, Carmel Valley

Failure to sacrifice is a disturbing sign

The pandemic tested us. And we failed. I’m using the global “we” here. With rare exceptions we, the Earth’s people, failed to come to terms properly with a threat that pales in comparison to another that looms large, has plenty of scientist-affirmed evidence to support it, is as existential a threat as we’ve ever had and is getting worse by the day.

Masks, many of us continue to contend, are inconvenient. Forcing us to wear them violates our civil liberties and threatens our individual freedom to live our lives as we please (we can’t really but that’s another issue). We want and need life the way we want it — the way it used to be — irrespective of the danger.

Interestingly we’ve proven time and time again that we can rally around our neighbors when tragedy strikes. Hurricanes, terrorist attacks and fires test our resolve, but we fight back hard and persevere. We come together and are one. But then, this year, when we were called to higher and loftier duty, we crumbled. A higher duty awaits us.

Global climate change is subtle by comparison. It doesn’t slap you in the face like a tsunami. It’s a very slow building storm. There are enough signals and evidence that it is real, destructive, unforgiving and possibly unstoppable. Can we rise to the challenge of changing our behavior to alter its path? I haven’t seen any evidence from our behavior this year that we can.

The changes we’ll need to make will also be inconvenient and will be perceived by many to be too draconian to bear — despite the consequences. “It hasn’t slapped me in my face, so I’m not sure I buy into the hype.”

What I’ve learned from this year is that in the face of another clear and present danger (that is already here), we are likely to not fare well at that as well. We have many, many more difficult years coming that are not going to be as easy as 2020.

Paul Jester, Poway

What 2020 did offer us was plenty of time

What will I remember most about this most unusual year?

Time. Memory. Closely connected. My overriding memory of 2020 is how much time I have had to think about and spend time. Time as a concept; time as a physical unit; time as a cycle. What day was it? What month was it? Time created an opportunity to explore the threads of the tapestry of life in ways that I might not otherwise have taken the time to do. Time created an opportunity to simply be. Nowhere to go. Nothing to do.

In mid-March, I started taking time every morning to attend a 30-minute meditation group. At the same time, I added two more repetitions to my twice-a-day practice of letting God know how grateful and blessed I was. With these practices I wove new threads in the tapestry.

In March, I also began taking myriad classes learning first about Zoom by which I explored so many academic topics and joined many armchair travelers. I learned to do this on my iPhone and iPad because my computer died March 15. The learning added new threads to the tapestry as did learning to use a new operating system at the end of April when I got a new computer.

By the end of March, the supervisor of my volunteer work as a dementia care coach had figured out a way for me to provide service virtually while being HIPAA compliant.

In April and May, I undertook massive spring cleaning, removing threads from the tapestry, which made the tapestry easier to see. That was Round 1. The round included going through at least 3 feet of recipes collected over decades, discarding most. The effort set me up for making dishes never prepared before from the recipes I saved. Prepping, cooking and baking were easily paced because I was cooking for one. I ate well, and still do. Time in the kitchen has been a form of meditation.

The time in late spring and summer of racial unrest created the opportunity to talk with friends and family about truths about ourselves and the U.S. that we wanted to be different. I took time to listen to webinars, participate in Zoom dialogues, and read books about racism. And still do.

And then it was late summer and early fall: Time for clearing Round 2. Massive for Round 1 was an understatement. In Round 2 I downsized dramatically, taking joy in donating much that had meant so much. Throughout the year I’ve realized and experienced that I don’t need much and still have more than I need.

And here I am at the end of 2020, a year for which my word was joy. (I have chosen theme words for the past 20 years.) Time in 2020 was richly rewarding and by the end of April I was able to find joy in the everyday nuances and repetitions of life. In 2020 I spent time going even deeper inward. I was reweaving threads of time in the tapestry of life.

So, what is TIME? The Immediate Moment’s Energy.

Renée Barnow, University City

Pandemic magnified all the little things

As a year starts we tend to look forward to our goals and assignments we have planned out in our careers and our business ventures.

Fear and failures are sometimes adversities that can come into play, but when an obstacle such as a pandemic is standing in front of us, helplessness reigns.

This 2020 has taught many of us how to re-evaluate and appreciate the mini things in life that were looked at, as one filling up our tank of gas. Pretty simple. The roller coaster started very fearful for all of us, midway through the midpoint was subsiding, toward the end the roller coaster of fear seemed to dwindle with many losing that fear but also many losing loved ones in the process.

We saw the anger of some, the humbleness of others. In the end, precaution was the most important tactic to take. Where to apply it could save your life against an affliction that we could not see, smell or hear.

The enemy lies within, our weapon against this monster lies in our mind and in our common sense. We learn as we go along, and some go that extra mile and try to get the word out there how lethal this can be.

Don’t take things for granted and don’t play with fire because eventually that can burn you and yours. The ultimate price has been paid by loved ones where other loved ones were negligent.

So learn, value and don’t take things for granted. Know that patience is a virtue more than ever as it can take another year to eradicate this monster. Now with a vaccine in full progress, let’s pray this starts subsiding to the other side and delete it. Believe science.

Jose Pena, Otay Mesa

Hoping we all work toward a better 2021

The year 2020, the year of hunkering down, staying home, quiet times reading a book or putting together many puzzles and then trading with friends, safely.

Lots of cleaning out cupboards and closets and then donating to the less fortunate. Staying in touch with friends, playing games and doing crafts projects and painting — all via Zoom.

The loss of celebrating birthdays, anniversaries and special occasions. Especially the loss of loved ones, being the toughest because there was no real closure for months. Missing family gatherings.

Now to 2021, even though it will still be months before we can really get back to normal.

Praying that the vaccine and everyone will work together to end this pandemic.

Linda Gonzales, Paradise Hills

We learned we need to learn even more

It is too easy to point fingers for the ever-worsening situation we are still facing going into 2021. I will never forget the people who failed us during this time. However, the more worrisome aspect of all this, to me, seems to be the failure of our educational system. For every five people I spoke to, four did not understand the basics of viruses. I don’t blame them. I include myself in the four out of five. I only understand it a bit better because I landed a job as a research assistant for a project to determine which objects the virus can be found on.

When I spoke with people, after gaining knowledge in the field, about how viruses work, their oohs and aahs were a sign of appreciation for the precautions being taken and an interest in science. It can be difficult to fully understand all of science but breaking it down to familiar concepts helps. I explained a vaccine to a plumber and an electrician using their work skills. Before, they were fearful of what the vaccines will do to their bodies. Lack of knowledge led to fear, skepticism and apathy.

It all made me realize that the failure to let people be uninformed has led to more problems than the failure of our government and its agencies. It has led to more hospitalizations, more conspiracy theories being allowed to flourish, a politicization of science and reckless behavior.

We need the knowledge of science, at least the basics, to thrive.

Rafael Baron, City Heights

A renewed sense of hope as year ends

2020 was unlike any other year. I work in senior residential care and have for 30 years.

The pandemic has shown me strength and bravery and misery and loneliness and loss. I’ve cried more this year than ever before. I see sorrow in my workplace and cannot share with my family because they would worry about me.

I have seen co-workers and friends work until they become ill, take their quarantine and come back to help our elders more.

I have had to play police officer and keep family members away when I see tears welling in their eyes. I’ve made calls to say that loved ones have passed peacefully and their struggle is over.

I’ve also been called a sheep for wearing a mask and a fool for wanting a vaccine. I wish some of these people who believe the virus is fake can spend the day with me.

I work senior residential and can only begin to imagine what front-line hospital workers have gone through. I cannot express my admiration for them. Pure respect.

Closing out 2020, I do feel a sense of hope. Maybe we have learned things. 2021 may have a lot of promise. Maybe we can pull together and be civil again. I hope so.

Angela Reynolds, Boulevard

My life in 2020: COVID-19, politics and survival

2020, as noted on a recent Sunday news program, has been one of the worse years in recent American history. That goes without saying, what with a runaway virus that has coursed throughout the country laying waste to human lives and spreading fear of contamination and death to many American families. As we confronted this looming biological threat this year, we met the challenge by sporting makeshift masks, keeping others at a respectable distance and avoiding mingling in large crowds. Yet others, smug in denial of its lethality, mock the danger of covid 19 that suddenly appeared early in the year and that has proceeded to wreak havoc throughout.

The emerging COVID-19 virus was but one threat that we were exposed to this year, being as there was another one that loomed large, albeit a political one. It was that of a dysfunctional presidency in the name of Donald J. Trump. His presence in the oval office augured perilous mischief demonstrated by his misguided actions on almost a day to day basis, creating added fear and anxiety to that of the COVID-19 peril. The Trump effect made for much chaos throughout his last year in office and his leadership absence throughout the building of the pandemic accelerated the spread of the virus and severely disrupted the economy.

Now at year’s end, the upcoming presidency of Joe Biden nurtures hope of bringing us back to normality in 2021 as he is set to take the reins of government and proceed to clean up the mess that Trump created through his 4 year tenancy in office. As such, we will be looking forward to an upcoming normal if not boring, four years of Biden to contrast the frightening and exhausting 4 years of Trump. And while 2020 has given us the “double whammy” of Trump and COVID-19, 2021 will be heralding a change to a calm and steady Biden presidency along with a vaccine to begin the process of eliminating that COVID-19 virus threat.

Our personal home life commensurately changed with the introduction of this unwelcome invader, but while it has made for hard times it also has had some desirable effects. Cloistered at home for most of the time, I’ve concentrated much of my daytime hours and energies getting busy with my favorite retirement pastime: oil painting on canvas. Luckily this year I’ve had my own art patron who has commissioned me several large paintings of various themes which range from seascapes to 19 century art masters reproductions. Added to that activity I’ve delved into other pursuits like writing, website work, Netflix movies and long walks with my wife when the gyms would get shut down.

Now, as 2020 fades away, we’re breathing a sense of relief of better times ahead beginning with a new administration at the helm, and an effective vaccine to boot.

Rudy Villasenor, Chula Vista

This story originally appeared in San Diego Union-Tribune.


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