A year to forget, and yet... - Shawn Loughlin editorial
For the vast majority of people, 2020 will be a year to forget. There has been so much horror on a day-to-day basis that it has rattled the foundations of many so that the awful became normalized and the horrific became part of just another day in 2020.
All of that is true, but as someone who became a father for the first time, it’s hard to think of the year Tallulah entered our lives as a time most people just want to forget.
For me, Jess and I having Tallulah has been a tangible, concrete lesson in finding the silver lining, always looking on the bright side of life and any other cheer-up-it’s-not-that-bad cliché you can dream up. In this, the hardest year I have seen in my life, I come home every day and see the best thing to ever happen in my life smiling back at me. In Tallulah’s joyous and loving eyes, it feels impossible to not have hope for a better future and be reminded that, no matter how hard and long the days can be, any day on this side of the lawn is a good day.
Talking about it, Jess and I both expressed sadness that Tallulah was born in such a harrowing year. But then we reflected that maybe it will make her resilient. Perhaps one day she’ll say, as a source of pride, that she was born in 2020 and lived to tell the tale.
She’ll know what her parents went through to have her during a pandemic; that her mother had to wear a mask around the hospital while in labour, her father couldn’t leave the room for celebratory cigar smoking and back slaps (or even a vending machine Snickers bar) and that no one but her parents could welcome her to the world at the hospital.
We’ll tell her that her aunt and cousin waited months upon months to hold her for the first time and that her grandparents had to quarantine together for two weeks before they could hold her and, even then, they had to wear masks when they did. The same will go for her neighbours, who so eagerly anticipated her arrival and supported her parents, only to wait months and months to hold her – and how they assured us that once they got their hands on her, they’d never let her go.
Speaking of her neighbours, she’ll hear about how her parents and their neighbours got together and strung Christmas lights through their backyards to keep spirits up during the long, cold winter months in Huron County.
She’ll hear about how her godfather lived in another country, one so ravaged by the virus – that we hope will be a distant memory for us all by that point – that he couldn’t even be in the same country as her for a good, long while.
I’ll tell her all about the stuff we had to do to keep the virus out of our house and from her tiny little body and its developing immune system. She’ll hear how her dad changed his shirt every day at lunch time, as to not hold her to a shirt worn in the outside world, and how her mom went through containers of Lysol wipes sanitizing groceries week after week.
She’ll know that many of her firsts had to be unorthodox. Her first Canada Day, her first Thanksgiving, her first Halloween, her first Christmas and maybe even her first birthday were all strange, but her family all did the best they could in such unprecedented times.
I will say, there has been something special about spending much of Tallulah’s first six months with just the three of us. I think we’ll look back at this time fondly, being together with few distractions to keep us from that time.
Being born in 2020 may teach Tallulah that there is always a reason to be optimistic; that the darkest days can make way for some of the brightest and that she came along at the perfect time for those who love her the most.