January 1, 2021

2020 – A Year Like No Other

By Mary Schricker Gemberling

It has been nine months since the term ‘Pandemic’ became a household word. On January 9, 2020, the World Health Organization( WHO) announced a mysterious Coronavirus-related Pneumonia in Wuhan, China. On January

20, three additional cases of the virus showed up in Thailand and Japan, causing the CDC to begin screenings at JFK, San Francisco and Los Angeles international airports. The following day a Washington State resident, who had recently traveled to Wuhan, became the first person in the United States with a confirmed case of the coronavirus. By the end of January, China made the unprecedented move to put 18  million people in Wuhan and its immediate surrounding areas under lockdown. Unless we had an immediate connection to China, few of us at this juncture paid much attention to the virus. But with more cases detected, additional countries began imposing travel restrictions. Although still not yet a pandemic, the average American was starting to sit up and take notice.

The WHO and the CDC, Center for Disease Control, were working overtime identifying increased cases and deaths resulting from what had been identified as Covid-19. The month of March certainly came “In Like a Lion” but the Lamb never showed up. And I am not referring to the weather. On March 6, half of just 46 passengers tested aboard a cruise ship carrying more than 3500 people had Covid-19. The ship was held at sea and not allowed to dock in San Francisco. By now most of us were not only listening, but also paying attention. In early March Covid-19 was declared a pandemic by the director of the WHO; just two days later President Trump declared the novel coronavirus a national emergency. And that, my readers, is the chapter by chapter story of how the ‘Pandemic of 2020’ began; unfortunately the ending is yet to be written.

Just as ‘Grief and Loss’ proceed in five stages of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance, so did our handling of this crisis, causing much disagreement as to what our government and individuals should be doing. But the one thing we have all shared is an undeniable commonality that each and every one of us were, in some way, affected by the events of 2020. And that no matter how and when a modicum of normalcy returns, we will be forever changed.

Because in my 70+ years of living I have experienced much joy as well as grief, I have a great appreciation for the blessings in my life. But my feelings of gratitude run even deeper these days. We have all been given a stark reminder that there are no guarantees in life; that at any moment our lives can be forever altered. I know in my heart that the greatest gifts do not come wrapped in a box. For me they are a loving husband, children and grandchildren who bring much joy, the friends who enrich my life beyond measure, my faith in a higher being, and lastly, but perhaps most important this year, my health. As the virus is quelled and we resume some semblance of our pre-pandemic lives I hope that 2021 brings you all much happiness, hope and peace.

“ I hope your soul finds peace. And your heart reaches home. I hope lights light up your way. And happiness takes over the pains of yesterday.”


Mary, a former educator and Seniors Real Estate Specialist, is the author of four books, The West End Kid, A Labor of Love, Hotel Blackhawk; A Century of Elegance, and Ebenezer United Methodist Church; One Hundred and Fifty Years of Resiliency.

Filed Under: Community, Family, History