A year ago, the mandate went out for Dallas to go indoors.
Masks came out and toilet paper disappeared as if by magic. Restaurants struggled to figure out how to provide take out for an entire city. A huge and desperate calm settled over the entire Metroplex.
Now, since even before our Governor’s rash removal of restrictions, the city has been burbling back to life in slow halting steps but with a remarkable sense of industry. Businesses found ways to work from home. Restaurants found ways to have their food delivered. People found new skills of cooking and artistry. Sometime along the way the country finally got a haircut. Vaccines began to be delivered and injected in astonishing number and now the end may, just may, be in sight.
There is much to mourn over the course of the year. More than 500,000 Americans died, far more than might have been lost had we been serious and committed to the temporary restrictions that our health experts recommended. Yes, temporary, until we could find the cure and the prevention as we have always done. Millions lost their jobs and their security. Scores of children struggled in the absence of their schools and playmates. People languished in loneliness and fear.
But there is much to celebrate in this year as well. National resilience, innovation and ingenuity for a few. The kindness of strangers has been on display in the form of food banks and charitable giving. Creativity has blossomed. Pet shelters have been emptied. The courage of medical staff and cleaners and grocery clerks and the millions of other essential providers has been a wellspring of pride.
It is curious that the pandemic has run the cycle of a year. I never understand why we begin the calendar in the full of winter, when nothing changes between a cold gray December and a cold gray January. The real start of the year is the spring: the greening of the trees, the budding of the flowers, the return of warmth and fecundity.
Last spring, we went inside; we all fled to our island of isolation. We watched the world brown then gray then wilt and crumble. But it never died because there were always seeds and roots beneath. And this spring, with a surge of new hope, those flowers that emerge will be brighter and heartier. We will be wiser and stronger, saddened by the memory of our loss but heartened by the knowledge of our survival.