Sara Watkins

Like many others are probably doing today, I am also reflecting on the last 365 days. As hard as it is to believe, it was one year ago today that the world as we knew it turned upside down. Friday, March 13, 2020, is a day I will never forget. I suspect I’m not the only one.

Not only was the first day of the COVID shutdown a Friday the 13th, a full moon and Daylight Savings weekend, it was also my daughter’s 6th birthday. I had learned the night before, after dinner with friends on what would become our last night out socially for quite some time, that Disney World had closed its doors indefinitely.

We were one week and two days away from taking a family spring break trip there in honor of the birthday girl. My only wish that next fateful day was that our daughter didn’t hear about our much-anticipated plans getting canceled on her big day. I brought a fun treat to her class late that morning so she could celebrate with her teacher and friends. She wanted me to check her out afterward and I thought, “Sure, why not? It’s her birthday.” I certainly would have left her there for the entire day if I had known she wasn’t going to go back to school for the next five months.

A canceled Disney vacation was tough to swallow, but we were still looking forward to seeing our son play in his last rec basketball state championship tournament later that day. Less than two hours before game time, the entire tournament was canceled. The next day, school was called off for the next two weeks. Before that two weeks was up, school was canceled for the rest of the year. A mask mandate was put in place before long and everyone was shuttered in their homes for months on end. It was an unprecedented time with no end in sight.

And here we are, one full year later. There seems to be a sliver of light at the end of this extra long tunnel, thankfully, but we’re certainly not through to the other side just yet. Regardless, life carries on. My daughter is 7 today. Not sure what’s more unbelievable: That we’re still dealing with this virus or that my youngest child is officially old enough to do everything on her own now. Or so she claims. She has gotten herself up and ready for school with no help every day this week, but I suspect she’s not moving to her own place just yet. At least I hope not. If this pandemic has taught me one thing, it’s that time with these kids moves so quickly and soaking up every second I can with them is, and will always be, my top priority.

I think this year will be a much better birthday for her. She’s having a small outdoor party with close friends. She’ll also get to spend time with extended family, which is not something we have done enough of in the past 12 months. She’ll experience some “normal” things, too, like attending swim practice and her brother’s baseball game; things we took for granted before this day a year ago. It’s a testament to how far we have all come throughout this entire situation. It feels like a turning point of sorts, even if it only exists in my head.

There’s more road left to travel, of course, but we’ve come this far. As the old song goes, if we can make it there, we’ll make it anywhere. Or something like that.

Happy 7th birthday to my baby girl today. You’re going to do big things this year, just like the rest of us.

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