My dog Harper, who never fails to make me smile.

2020 was tough for everyone, but for me personally, it was really tough. I don’t think I realized how much so until I was summarizing it for someone and got caught off guard by a strong wave of emotion. Seriously ill parents and in-laws, my dad’s passing, a steep furlough, and of course Covid. And I wasn’t alone. I know many people who lost loved ones, couples who had to cancel their weddings, college and high school seniors with cancelled graduations and friends whose spouses were laid off, while business owners struggled to stay afloat.

I thought as the calendar finally turned the page to 2021 that if nothing else, seeing a new date would bring psychological relief that things would start to improve. Yet, the first week continued to wring confusion and heartbreak.

First our friend and colleague, Jason Vincent, passed away unexpectedly. The suddenness of it left us and many others reeling as we tried to make sense of what was happening. The tremendous void of knowledge, inventiveness, and comradery he leaves behind is daunting. Simply put, the world has lost a good one.

Add to that the shocking events at the Capitol last week – the brazen insurrection and attack on our government – which left so many of us in angry disbelief to see our government defiled in such a vile way. While Congress debates an appropriate response, the rest of us worry there may be more incidents of violence around the country.

As we approach the year-mark of living with Covid, it’s clear it’s been a collectively hard time for all of us. To pretend otherwise glosses over the very real and ongoing hardships we’ve endured.

But there is hope.

Some of the many treasures to be found on Middletown’s Main Street.

Everywhere I turn I see hope. And every day I’m glad that I’m not going through this experience alone. Because really, none of us can. I am thankful I have colleagues who can take up the slack when I need to tend to family matters, and I know I’ll pitch in when they need to tend to theirs. Although I don’t go out as often, I’m so glad when I visit my Main Street shops, every single one requires a mask and has hand sanitizer conspicuously available. I am grateful to my library and local restaurants and businesses that offer curbside pickup, so I can support them while they can support my health and safety. I am grateful for the many sympathetic ears that let me vent, and share, and engage in a cathartic letting go as I process the strange and troublesome events we’re witnessing. I am grateful a vaccine is being made available and my most vulnerable relatives and friends can soon get one. I am grateful to see the way CMSC members and towns have stepped up to support their communities.  And I’m hopeful a new administration will bring a return of faith in science, fact and common good.

There is no doubt times are tough and they have been for a while now. But it won’t be like this forever. And in the meantime, we have a collective network of family, friends, pets, co-workers, community members and more to help us get through until better days arrive.


About the Author

Christine Schilke serves as the Marketing & Development Director for the Connecticut Main Street Center, a small but mighty non-profit that champions downtowns and Main Streets all across the state. She is Hootsuite-certified in Social Marketing and a member of the Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS). She is also the author of numerous blogs and articles and has a particular affinity for puns, plays on words, and taking complex information and making it both engaging and easy to understand.