When FOMO becomes a reality: Looking back at a year rocked by COVID

Like most of the world, our lives came to a screeching halt in mid-March 2020. Venturing out only to retrieve delivered groceries or the mail, or for quick walks around the core of NoDa, we took in the shuttered storefronts and deserted streets with a sense of awe and sadness.

Sadness for our friends and neighbors whose businesses were abruptly closed or who lost their jobs in service related industries. And sadness for ourselves for the things we would miss out on in the near future – be it weeks, months, or even years.

While we all missed and lost many things during the pandemic, for us, not seeing relatives and loved ones, forgoing travel, and being unable to attend live performances were the things we missed the most.

In late March 2020, our older son was married in a small, socially distanced wedding on a scenic hilltop in Wisconsin. When we learned of his impending wedding, we struggled with whether we should attempt to drive to this significant life event. My wife and I have been married for 40 years. In all those decades, deciding whether to risk driving hundreds of miles (including rest stops and hotel stays) was the hardest decision we ever made. In the end, we decided not to risk the travel. Our decision hinged on the fact that if we became sick, we would become an avoidable burden for other family members and another community’s health system. While we decided not to attend, we took consolation in the fact that our son and his spouse have since planned a more formal ceremony and celebration for this September.

While less significant than the missed wedding, my wife and I also cancelled several planned excursions to destinations we’ve looked forward to visiting for years. Fortunately, nearly all trips were refunded or credited – and we have plans to resume travelling (attending three family weddings this summer and fall).

We are big fans of live music and theater. Living in NoDa, we feel extremely fortunate to have two of the best music venues in the state, The Evening Muse and The Neighborhood Theatre, just down the street from our home. Not attending a live music event for several months hurt on a couple of levels. First, we missed the intimacy and immediacy of witnessing artists performing a one-of-a-kind set with audience interaction – something that can’t be replicated with recorded music and live streams. And we also hurt for our friends who are owners, service personnel, and performers who have faced shuttered venues for months on end.

We’re also fans of live theater and other performances. Obviously, all of these venues have been closed since March 2020 and remain boarded up today. Fortunately, live theater and performances are expected to resume, in one form or another, by fall this year. We, as well as thousands of others, can’t wait to see our favorite performers “trod the boards” again.

Life is slowly returning to at least a semblance of normal. With vaccinations widely available to everyone over age 12, rates of infections, hospitalizations, and deaths from COVID continue to drop. Businesses, shops, and restaurants are reopening, and people feel more comfortable frequenting these businesses that have experienced a long dry spell. With warmer weather having arrived, outdoor activities abound and you can feel a sense of relief on the faces of people reconnecting with family and friends and rejoining their favorite activities. While we still have a long way to go to resume pre-COVID life, we’re definitely moving in the right direction.

We all missed seeing people we love and doing the activities we enjoy for the past 15 months. Hopefully, over the next few months, we can once again feel the level of freedom that this global pandemic has denied us.