23 Mar Holding On
“A Sliver of Hope”
A one year reflection by guest Blogger Emma Springer
365 sunrises and sunsets, 1 year —— exactly how long I’ve been home since my world, and everyone’s world, turned upside down.
I’m a recent college grad, although lately I’ve been wondering at what point should I drop the “recent”? I still have a few months until my graduation anniversary so I think I can hold out a little longer. March 16, 2020 was the day I left James Madison University. Farewell to my room and the little house my friends and I were renting on a quaint neighborhood street. It was this place that had given me so much joy. And provided so much growth over the last 4 years. I had arrived back in Harrisonburg only a day before, returning from spring break. It was on that trip we got the first inclinations life might dramatically change.
There was talk of the coronavirus and how other countries were suffering. Talk of how schools along the East coast were starting to extend spring break, delaying in-person classes. There are many moments I remember quite vividly. But the first starts on the balcony of the condo we were staying at for the week.
I was on the phone with my Dad, discussing other schools’ decisions to send students home for the rest of the semester. Schools were sending kids home to finish up their school year. In my case it would be to finish my college career. Of course I hoped JMU wouldn’t do that or make any decisions too soon, but as more universities sent out notifications the chances looked slim.
First Sliver of Hope
Fast forward a few days, I’m walking along the beach with my friend Sara when I decide I’m taking a dunk no matter how cold! It was Florida, it as my spring break. I remember floating after the initial temperature shock wore off when Sara yelled from the shore, “Emma! They sent us an email!”. I ran — as fast as one does in water — to confirm what we had hoped would not be, was indeed true. JMU made a decision to send students home, but would re-assess in a few weeks to determine if we could return to campus to complete the year. The alternative, remote on-line learning.
That was the first sliver of hope. Whether I actually believed it or just wanted to, I kept thinking,“it’s not over yet, there’s still a chance this will all blow over and I’ll be back in classes, in my community in a few weeks.”
The third moment I remember so vividly happened on March 16. My mom came to JMU to help facilitate the purchase of a new laptop. Inconveniently my several years old computer died before leaving for spring break. After the purchase, we went back to my house to pack. I was putting clothes in my bag and remember being so upset, saying, “I’m coming back next weekend, nothing is changing that.”
I went home and did what the rest of the world did, I waited. I waited to see how things would play out. Was everyone was just overreacting? Would JMU say, “Bring ‘em back”? Was Italy was getting any better? Those few weeks came and went. Days filled with online classes, walks, excitement over progress on a challenging puzzle, and feverishly washing groceries.
Eventually I received the email I feared most, all classes will continue online, no one is to return to campus. Seniors we love you and we will miss you. I was devastated. But then I held onto hope again, looking forward to the prospect of at least having a graduation ceremony to celebrate what those 4 years meant. I’ve yet to have a graduation ceremony. I’m still holding onto hope, although my grip is much looser this time, but nonetheless it’s there.
Keep Holding onto Hope
I think it is so important, vital even, that we continue to hold onto hope, because after all, that’s what got us this far. Have hope in the possibility of family members getting vaccinated soon. Hope we can gather in small groups and enjoy much needed reunions. Hope that our kids might return to their classrooms in the fall. And hope that sometime soon we will be able to see the smiles of strangers as we get our groceries, mail our bills and work side by side again.
A Year Later
A year ago we didn’t know what the future would hold, so much loss, so much sorrow. But also so much bravery, perseverance, selfless acts and genuine compassion for our neighbors. Now, a year later, we can start to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and while it may be faint today, each day it gets a bit brighter.
We know what to do, we know what works, washing our hands, social distancing, wearing masks, being kind. Now it is just a matter of keeping the faith a little longer. Keep checking up on one another, either by phone, a quick text, a friendly PinchPal or pretty picture. You never know how impactful those small gestures can be. “Do small things with great love,” this quote says it all. Staying home might seem small but its impact is far-reaching. Wearing a mask requires little effort but shows you care. So keep holding onto hope, looking towards the growing light.
My wish is that whatever your “hope” looks like comes to be, and if by chance it doesn’t, remember it wasn’t all for naught, for it was hope that brought us this far.