Pause. Look back.

Where can I find face masks? And if I do, which one is the most effective for protecting myself from a deadly virus? Why is there not enough toilet paper or water on store shelves? Where did all the bread go? No eggs either? At least they still have some – wait a minute – what, no more spaghetti noodles either? What’s with all the panic buying?

An invisible enemy changed how we live our daily lives in 2020. Aside from protecting yourself as best as you can from COVID-19 and taking all necessary health precautions, how else do you go about living life when it’s not even safe to take a deep breath to calm yourself down?

Well at least I can still get together with friends and family via Zoom. “Hey, I see you but I can’t hear you!” we’d all exclaim during every virtual get together. “You were frozen, what did you just say?” I called my 82-year-old mom almost everyday to check on her. Then I thought my sister and I should try and show her how to use Zoom so we can all talk and see each other from the comfort and safety of our own homes. “Mom, all you have to do is click on the link I emailed you, okay?” I instructed her. But we immediately abandoned that option after she said, “What’s a link?”

We’ve never made a sausage, egg and spinach breakfast pizza before and now we make them every other weekend. We even managed to learn how to make our own sushi rolls. I was craving sweet potato fries one time – thank goodness my nephew gave us an air fryer for Christmas the year before. Not much yet was known about how transmissible the virus was in the early days of the pandemic. I didn’t want us to find out by indulging in a combo plate to-go that might have been seasoned with COVID-19.

I also learned to say, “Annyeonghaseyo!”. That’s how they say hello in all the addicting “KDramas” or Korean Dramas that we started binge-watching on Netflix. I discovered a new way of saying “I love you” to my husband by using the finger heart gesture or simply saying, “Saranghaeyo.” I considered learning how to play chess after watching The Queen’s Gambit or how to “fold in the cheese” after watching Moira and David hilariously attempt to do it on Schitt’s Creek.

Even watching Amazon or Fedex vans drive by and park in front of our house was such a thrill. It could only mean that my long-awaited face mask lanyards, touchless keychain, and PM2.5 mask filters have finally arrived. Of course, I had to make sure I don’t wait more than 30 seconds before I retrieve the packages from our front door. Otherwise, a neighborhood “porch pirate” can easily become the proud owner of my long-awaited Turbie Twist hair towel.

Time will soon come when people can gather together again – to cheer on their favorite sports team at arenas, to collectively gasp together at a theater while watching a heart-stopping scene from the latest blockbuster summer movie, or to scream our heads off while watching the world’s biggest boy band in concert at a 90,000 capacity stadium.

We’ll be getting together again for weekend brunches with family, meeting friends for coffee, and visiting family from out-of-state. Simple moments we’ve always enjoyed but had to put on hold for now.

Throughout the year, I whispered a silent prayer for those who fell victim to the virus. I prayed for those whose work is essential to make our lives safer and healthier – that they may have renewed energy and spirit – to protect us, feed us, and provide us the services we need so our lives can go on as normally as possible.

I constantly prayed for the health and safety of my family, friends, and loved ones and that none of us will ever have to do battle with this invisible enemy.

Year 2020 came to a close for all of us with love, togetherness from afar, and in good health. As I look back and look forward to the new year, not a day goes by that I don’t fervently tell God, “Kamsahamnida” (that’s Korean for “thank you”).

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