This year will long be remembered as the year of the pandemic, a time when the entire world struggled to fight off a killer virus that left hundreds of thousands of deaths in its wake.
The stories from past plagues that have ravaged our planet were captured in newspaper accounts and family histories, passed along by generations of survivors. Many details of the destructive virus were left untold.
The history of COVID-19 has been recorded far more completely.
The visual and electronic storytelling techniques have allowed us to save photographs and recordings of the firsthand experiences that break our hearts every time they are shared. Soon we will all know people who have overcome or succumbed to the virus.
A conversation with a friend recently made me think about how the youngest among us will carry their memories of the pandemic.
A mother of three young children, my friend told me how she has taken photos of life during the pandemic. Photos of her masked offspring, instructional signs in public places and the mostly deserted landscape are a few of the images she has captured and saved for her children.
I wonder what type of scrapbook – virtual or otherwise – children will put together as they grow older and the pandemic of 2020 grows dimmer in their minds. They will surely have their own vivid recollections of the months when life stood still. The day school ended in a building and shifted to the dining room table. Halloween parties at home and Thanksgiving without grandparents.
I have a photograph of my grand daughter on her special First Communion day. Her beautiful white lace dress and veil are obscured by the mask shielding her face. Her twinkling eyes peering from behind the face covering clearly show she was still smiling broadly.
Those of us who have survived the virus so far will have stories to tell not only of the killer pandemic but a political war that raged simultaneously in our country. That battle has been laboriously chronicled for future generations, too.
Children are resilient and will recover their lives with friends, relatives and the activities that kept them occupied before the door to our world slammed shut. But the scrapbooks they compile for their children and grandchildren will provide the full measure of what the pandemic of 2020 really meant to them. And how they survived.