2020…for the birds

2020…For the birds. Like…it really needed to end shortly after all 5 of my clocks rang it in. Rarely have I ever just wanted a year to close out and end. At the moment I’m currently on the fence as to whether or not I’m ready for 2021. Given that the last 9 months have been, to say the least, interesting, 2021 really doesn’t have a lot to live up to.

Thomas 2014

On the other hand…2020 has also been a year for growth personally and professionally. I’ve always found that despite the downs, there is always a silver lining.

“New” company

Walgreens 2020

It’s been in the works for years, but my store finally became a bona fide Walgreens. After operating like the red-headed stepchild for two years we went through the months-long process to integrate fully into the Walgreens corporate network and product line.

Gotta say, the whole thing is a little odd for me. I worked for Walgreens as an intern in pharmacy school, signed on with Rite Aid after graduation, and now work for Walgreens again after my store was bought. To be honest, there were things I certainly like better about Rite Aid, but both companies have their positives and negatives. Silver lining: I still have a job, and given the challenges we have all seen this year I am always thankful for that.

And then there was Corona…

Coronavirus 2020

I really wish it was the beer. Sadly, I was never really fond of Corona, I was more of a Dos Equis guy…but I don’t think I’ll ever touch another Corona again. They should change the name of the beer. Or at least design a commemorative label. As of this post none of our clan has had the misfortune of personally having the virus. Unfortunately, we have all had personal loss. In the space of a week I lost my grandfather and one of my favorite patients at the pharmacy. Early in the pandemic one of my oldest supporters at our old church passed. We never had a funeral. Yet another one of my friends at the pharmacy has been in the ICU since Thanksgiving.

Possibly the most disheartening phrase I hear in the pharmacy (even a year later) is that it is just a government hoax. This virus is no worse than the flu. I personally have never experienced the loss, and heartache (yeah…I’m getting soft) I have had to experience this year. Friends and family have passed, trips and traditions have been canceled. Work habits have literally been turned upside down. Masks aren’t just for bank robbers any more.

It’s hard to find a bright spot in this, but read on. In as much as COVID has brought pain, heartache, and hardship, it has also defined 2020 in ways that will persist for years to come.

Family comes first

It seems that according to the press stay at home orders are the work of politicians seeking to restrict our own personal freedoms. I won’t wade into that particular argument…but will point out that staying home has had its benefits. For us personally, having Brit home and out of work has meant strong growth in our kids. She has been able to pass on the same personal drive she has to our children. The values we share now will only help them succeed later. Likewise, I’ve been able to enjoy more time with all of them since we haven’t all been going our separate ways. The unfortunate side, from seeing it at the pharmacy, is that not all families have been as fortunate as ours. Child suicide rates have risen, opiate use has increased, and depression has hit new highs. This has, however, taught me to value the time I have with my family, and treat each moment as its own.

While we may have had to cut down on trips (again, thank you COVID), that doesn’t mean we haven’t had any. For anybody that has gone to Disney and experienced that crowds, COVID was a blessing in disguise. We had the good fortune (born of an unfortunate situation) to be able to go to Disney on Labor Day weekend. For our kids the experience was once in a lifetime. The crowds were nonexistent. While I hate the circumstances, our trip to Animal Kingdom this year is one we’ll never forget.

Magnolia Plantation 2020

Animal Kingdom 2020

Holidays are the holidays again

Christmas 2020
Christmas 2020

I think that prior to 2020 public sentiment had already been shifting in favor of closing most business on the holidays. COVID-19 seems to have sealed it for many businesses on the fence. While many still want to make sure they don’t miss that potential last bit of revenue, many others have realized the value of family. I recall driving by a McDonald’s on Thanksgiving this year; up until 2020 every location in town was open on every holiday. This year? All of them were closed. Score one for family.

Likewise, when was the last time so many Christmas lights have been on display? I’ve been lazy for a couple of years, but this year I decided to honor a request from Aiden to light up the house. I honored that request and loaded up the house. As a bonus, our neighborhood is the brightest it has been since we moved in 9 years ago. I can only hope that it continues, because frankly, it’s a pretty sight.

New friends

Sometimes when God puts us through the hardest times its hard to remember he always does it for a reason. Those reasons are never readily apparent, but always reveal themselves in due time for those willing to see. At other times His methods are obvious. We were fortunate this year to meet new friends and neighbors, and the timing could not have been better. As a family we were struggling when we had two awesome families move in in front of and behind us. Both have kids, and since then life has not been the same. We have been blessed with good friends, and our kids have been blessed with friends to play and grow with.

Saying goodbye to an old best friend

For most people 2020 will be marked by COVID. For us 2020 will be the year we lost Thomas. When we started pharmacy school in 2007 we moved to Richmond without any of our animals. Both Brit and I had grown up around dogs and cats for our entire lives. Living in Richmond without any sort of companion was a shock. We made it maybe two months before we decided, on a spur of the moment decision, to get a dog. I don’t even remember where we got Thomas, but I do know (now) it was unfortunately a puppy mill for Yorkies. We drove an hour north of Richmond in September of 2007, and within about 2 minutes of hitting the door one puppy out of probably 100 calmly sat down and looked right at me. I will never forget that look.

Thomas 2020
Thomas 2007

George went home with us. And then got his name changed to Thomas. Dunno why. A year later we ended up with a cocker spaniel named Edwin. Those two dogs got us through pharmacy school. Thomas, however, was always the leader. For a Yorkie, Thomas was big (like 14 pounds big). While 14 pounds isn’t a big dog, in Thomas’ mind he was the biggest dog out there. He’d take on anything and everything.

The hardest thing I have ever had to do in life was to give the vet permission on Sunday, December 13th, to take our best friend. After 2 hard years with Cushing’s and diabetes, he developed seizures overnight. We knew at that point he had given the best fight and it was time to let go. I’m not an emotional person; in fact I’m just a straight up sarcastic pain in the ass. I felt like a hole was ripped out of my heart that morning. I thought that would be the hardest part; then I had to see how Edwin was taking it. He grieved, and still grieves, as much as we do.

Thomas 2008

New family

Snowflake 2020

Again, maybe God was preparing us. On top of losing Thomas we lost our cat that had been ours since 2003. Skittles (not the cat pictured) was rescued from the CJs parking lot in Marion, Virginia. I crossed four lanes of traffic to rescue that damn cat. Neurotic, crazy Skittles stayed with us until just before Thomas passed this year. About two months before Skittles passed…Snowflake entered the picture. Don’t ask about the name, Aria picked it. Where Skittles was crazy and antisocial, Snowflake is the exact opposite. And, no matter what Brit says, is exactly what we needed. God at work again.

New skills

Reading this post? Enjoying the how-to articles? Part of being home made more time for learning. I rebuilt our home network, learning as I went. After that I learned how to build a web page. I’m still having fun. Stay tuned for Fitness by Brittany. Brit has gone back to school (virtually) and will soon have her personal trainer license. CoachBNMay.com is coming soon.

Buh-bye 2020

2020…for the birds. After going through this and thinking about it, maybe it wasn’t so bad. I feel for the families in pain; I wanted so very badly to see my grandfather one last time. But…I also feel that the challenges of 2020 have only made us grow as a family. I started this post expecting it to be rather dismal, but as I wrote I realized that every single negative note of 2020 had a positive note. That can only be God’s hand at work. We were blessed with a white Christmas in Virginia, and not just a little bit of a white Christmas, 5 whole inches. In a year full of ups and downs, maybe its a fitting end that instead of a rainbow, we get snow as a sign that God remembers, and is always with us. Here’s to 2021 and the promise it brings.

2021 New Year
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