Updated: Jan 15
It’s New Year’s Eve - your very last day - and it’s time to finally say goodbye to you. I don’t want to be rude or anything but is it possible that you may have overstayed your welcome by at least six months? Saying goodbye to you is going to be pretty easy for many and whilst I realise that may hurt your feelings please know it's not my intention to be mean. However, in my mind’s eye, I can see a swelling and agitated mob gathering, waiting for you to take your sh*t and leave. Adios. Farewell. Just get the f**k outta here!
Well, that’s what others may well say to you but as for me, there are a few things I want to expand on so please don’t mind me too much as I share some of my highlights whilst you gather your things together.
First things first: You have been a year of unimaginable loss, grief and inexplicable pain. I mean, 2020 - seriously?! At one point, April 2nd to be precise, the assault on my heart had me feeling as if I was being pummelled by a two-hundred-pound cage fighter - who wasn’t sticking to any of the rules! I was afraid to pick up my phone or go on to social media because I feared who I would read about next so had to resort to putting my phone on silent to keep my anxiety at bay. In your early months of Lockdown 1.0 and on the rare occasion I would summon the courage to leave my home, I encountered faces etched with fear - it was as if COVID could be transferred via eye contact (to be fair, we weren't certain it couldn’t). Yet, in the midst of this apocalyptic-esque time, I learned that I can not hold on to anything too tightly. Don’t get me wrong, 2020, you’re not going to stop me from dreaming but I realised more than ever before that I need to be more present because my time on earth is precious and could be brief. I guess I should thank you for that.
I had a lockdown birthday and in the days leading up to it, I became reflective. The truth is I’m not big on celebrating my birthday for many reasons - 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2019 probably told you this. What if no one acknowledges me on the one day I have permission to make it all about me? I usually end up doing something on my own, however, this year I wanted to do something different so made plans to spend time with my daughter and grandson. Well, COVID scuppered those plans leaving me unable to see anyone which made me acutely aware of my aloneness. No need to unpack your violin, 2020 - you joker - it’s all good but understandably I wasn’t looking forward to my birthday so I decided to do what I never do - invite people to celebrate my special day and you know what? It was one of my best birthdays. I felt so loved and celebrated and not because I coerced people to love and celebrate me but because I let people in to love and celebrate me. We’re taught that it’s “better to give than receive” however, just like breathing there’s a rhythm to giving … you can’t keep exhaling without inhaling. So you, 2020, helped me realise that with all the giving we do, we must open up our hearts and arms to receive and then prepare ourselves for what will come back. Thanks for that!
I’m a proud black woman, born in the UK to Jamaican parents. Raised in a multi-cultural Britain that my parents help to make Great. Before George Floyd’s death this year and the subsequent protests all over the world, I was afraid to participate in conversations about racial inequality. I never felt I knew enough and didn’t realise that my very existence as a black woman was sufficient data for me to speak up. I soon realised as the world reeled from the images and videos of George Flloyd’s brutal killing, that all my life I had dumbed down the racist comments or indifference I had experienced because I simply didn’t want to draw attention to myself and more importantly, to racists and the ignorance of friends and colleagues around me. But this summer, 2020, that all changed when something awakened within me and I don’t believe I’m the only one. I had conversations about race with more people in your year than I have had in my entire life. There have been opportunities to speak on panels about race, to share about allyship and be an advocate in an organisation of 16,000 employees for Ethnicity and Race. Who knew?! So, yeah 2020, you should look a little smug - thank you for igniting something within me that I plan to nurture and cultivate.
Then just before we went into Lockdown 2.0, I got to immerse my best-friend in a pool of water. I hastened to add there was nothing sinister going on here however she was determined to let the world know about her decision to follow Jesus. Do you know what a big deal this was for her and for me? Oh, of course, you don't as you've only been around for 366 days so you don't know our history because if you did you would know this trumped Trump losing the US election! Thank you and ... thank you.
I don't want to keep you so the last memory I will share is that the Queen of my heart celebrated her 80th birthday on the 362nd day of your year. I could say so much about my Mum and about the plans I had in mind to celebrate this milestone with her in Jamaica but, you know what? I now realise that as well-meaning as big gestures like throwing parties and buying extravagant gifts are, sometimes going back to basics is what connects and impacts hearts. Putting together a WhatsApp campaign to family and friends to call my mum on her birthday was all that was needed to make her “feel good” - what more could I have asked for?! 2020, if it wasn’t for social distancing and I would probably give you a big thank you hug for that!
This time last year I would have been poised with a flute of bubbles in my hand waiting for Big Ben to strike midnight and usher you in. There were so many quotes about us having 20/20 vision which would enable us to see things with more clarity. Now that I’m looking back I can see a lot more clearly what you were all about. The irony, eh?
2020, you stayed the course and showed up strong for all your 366 days. So much will be left behind with you - too much if you ask me - and for sure we will visit you in our memories and talk about you often. You were indeed unprecedented.
I’m not mad at you, 2020 - not at all. My parent’s generation would say “What doesn’t kill you will make you stronger.” You had your time and the truth is that I’m leaving you better than I met you a year ago and for this, I am so grateful to God who is good, for me and faithful.
Thank you, 2020.