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  • Writer's picturestephanieraffelock

What A Difference A Year Can Make!

Today a couple of memories popped up on my Facebook page and I was surprised by what a touchstone they were. At this time in 2019, I had just finished a three-day writing retreat with Jennie Nash and her Author Accelerator team. Still enjoying the high of cranking out twenty pages a day, I drove home to meet a house guest, David, who had come to visit hubby and me.

We hadn’t been in Austin all that long. We'd only moved here the previous fall. We were enjoying the energy of the place, reveling in all the goings on of our new city. So having a house guest who we could show around was a lot of fun for us. David’s been boating his entire life, and he was more than happy to captain a boat for us on nearby Lake Travis. The sun was warm, the breeze was refreshing and we were happy to be with our friend, inhaling deeply the vibrancy of living out loud.

How different the summer would be just one year later. The summer of 2020 had no writing events at all. No one came to visit and we didn’t venture out. I was still going to the grocery store once a week, but a lot of my friends were having food delivered or picking up curbside. There was a feeling of fear and worry in the air. My husband and I watched life unfold on the news, stunned by the divide: there were those people who saw the pandemic as a public health crisis, and those who saw the pandemic as a big hoax, a political ploy. The number of daily deaths continued to slowly tick upward and it wasn’t long until we too had a friend who was claimed by COVID.

Now, one year after that lost summer, the world is opening up again. I feel much safer, having had the vaccine, knowing that if I am exposed to the virus, at least it won’t kill me. Like that warm day that we were out on Lake Travis with David, I'm slowly making my way back into the joys of being alive. I still wear a mask when I grocery shop, but I’ve eaten outside at a restaurant and tonight friends are coming over for dinner. Tomorrow I planned a little shopping excursion with a neighbor. It’s a big deal to go somewhere that isn’t Home Depot or the grocery store, which is the only commerce I’ve frequented in the past year. Underneath it all is a little bit of anxiety, mixed with a juicy excitement reminiscent of that 2019 June that seems so far away and yet so very close, at the same time.

Life turns on a dime. People can die suddenly. Weather events wreck lives. Pandemics can happen. The great lesson that I sit with today is to live each moment fully and joyfully. Seize the day, and always say thank you. I’m grateful we’re coming out of the barren land to which we were sentenced this past year. I'm keeping my mantra close by: Life is good. Live fully and love well.

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