On Christmas Eve, I sat down with my wife, Meghan, to join a Zoom call with extended family. We normally see these faces on the call at my aunt’s house that night. The call started out with smiles and everyone trying to talk over each other as one would expect with 12 different video screens on a call. Fortunately, my cousin organized it so that individual people could say something after learning the hard way from a fun, but chaotic, video call earlier at Thanksgiving. My uncle, who had COVID several months ago and thankfully recovered, started to say, “I really…m…,” as he started to get choked up. He composed himself and said it again.
“I really miss you guys.”
This is 2020 to me. Everyone on that call felt that emotion. Everyone has been put through the ringer this year. People need each other and unfortunately the situation we’ve been put in this year has limited that need. I know I really miss hanging out with people.
2019 was a personal hell, as April through January of that year was ridden with weird health issues that many scans and tests couldn’t really pinpoint. I wrote about this in my posts 9 Months of Hell and The Year of “I Don’t Know”. Fortunately most of my symptoms have eased up or I focus on them a lot less. I laugh looking at my title for “The Year of ‘I Don’t Know'” since 2020 continued the uncertainty in many other ways.
I look back on 2019 and think that maybe all of my stress and anxiety around my own health prepped me, at least somewhat, for 2020. Nevertheless, 2020 was a firehose of negativity both on a global and personal scale.
On a macro scale, we now have around 332,000 deaths in the United States in 9 months and around 1.76 million deaths around the world from COVID-19. That’s around 18.9% of COVID-19 deaths coming from the United States. That’s a little less than 1/5 of deaths worldwide coming from the U.S. Many businesses are hurting significantly and people are struggling to make ends meet while the government has delayed additional financial relief. Racism and prejudice were brought to the forefront after the video surfaced of the brutal murder of George Floyd. The sitting president somehow received around 74 million votes in November despite inciting hatred as well as videos and recordings of him downplaying COVID early on. Misinformation is spreading like wildfire and it scares the hell out of me that truth and trusted institutions are being muddied by these dishonest sources. I’m sure I missed a bunch of stuff here, but I was also dealing with struggles on a personal front.
While issues set fire to the world, flames ignited on a personal level. In June, my Grandpa had a stroke and was life-flighted to Pittsburgh. This sent my Dad into a manic state where he wasn’t acting like himself. Residual scar tissue on his brain from a severe case of spinal meningitis two years ago didn’t help things either. He was hospitalized, but because of COVID, unfortunately only one person could be present in the hospital with him, and that was my brother. While my brother took the brunt of responsibility there, I tried to help as much as I could by talking to my Dad on the phone, dropping stuff off, and helping my Mom out.
During this family emergency, my sister-in-law came into our office at their home and broke down because she was racially harassed by a neighbor across the street. This neighbor also flipped off my toddler niece and continued to threaten my brother’s family and even their neighbors. They realized after several weeks that they could not live at their home safely and had to move away from their house that they put their heart and soul into. It broke my heart to see people I care deeply about get torn down. Meghan and I opened our home to them for a short bit while they found a safe temporary place to live. I tried to help out as much as I could with everything going on.
Shortly after my brother’s family stayed with us, my Grandpa took a turn for the worse and passed away. He was the toughest guy with the warmest heart. He cherished family more than anything and I am grateful to have had him in my life for as long as I did. I am also lucky that I was able to say a proper goodbye to him unlike so many other folks right now. I will miss him dearly.
I lost an incredibly creative and funny friend from childhood not too long after that in an awful train accident. I’ve had extended family get COVID. I’ve had people I grew up with lose a parent due to COVID.
2020 sucked and there’s no glossing over any of that. Even though mine sucked, many other people had it a lot worse, and I really feel for them.
With anything negative in life, I try to look at the positives. 2020 was a terrible year, but I’m trying to be an optimistic person. So here it goes:
- Vaccines are being administered now. I am so grateful for intelligent scientists who put everything into finding a vaccine. My wife just got vaccinated being a medical professional. I am hopeful that these vaccines will help give us some sort of “normalcy” again once they are widely dispersed.
- We’ll have a president within the next 30 days who promotes unity, truth, and science. Even better, we’ll have someone who appoint experts to positions in their field of strength. Mostly, I am looking forward to not waking up to a “Tweetstorm” everyday, which will be better for everyone’s mental health.
- Lots of folks of different backgrounds took to the streets to protest against police brutality and racism. This stuff has always existed, but since the world has slowed down due to the virus, many were forced to see this. I’d like to hope that the majority of people want equality in this country, and that includes equal treatment no matter what race or gender you are or who you love. I hope conversation and reform take place to improve the way we treat each other.
- My Dad is doing a lot better now and it’s great to see him more like himself again.
- My brother and his family are safe and are settled into their “adventure house” as they tell their daughter. They are able to steady their legs now a bit and have a more stable routine again.
- I am incredibly grateful for my wife. She had to endure all of the negatives this year and last year. I am so fortunate that we have each other to lean on during these crazy times. Also, while she doesn’t work directly with COVID, she is a healthcare provider who kicks ass at what she does. My hope is that she doesn’t ever have to be called in to help with COVID patients. I’m also really glad we got to travel to Zion National Park before everything shut down this year.
- My health is in a better spot. I am not on any medication anymore. I can exercise, play sports, watch TV, work comfortably, and sleep comfortably again.
- I restored a piece of wood furniture for the first time. It was fun and therapeutic at first, but then got very tedious and time consuming. The finished product turned out really well though. I wouldn’t mind trying this again with something else.
- I am very grateful for a job because so many are not so fortunate.
- I helped build a design system for United Airlines and guide their team towards building on top of that foundation. I helped with design system work for Pfizer and am now working with a large financial company to try and reduce tech debt as well as promote more modular design and development. I also built a prototype with a colleague around a healthcare company’s existing tool for COVID medication to promote free work, but while the company seemed interested, it wasn’t a priority. I also helped build a theming prototype to help pitch more work to another client…but the pitch was the same day they laid off a bunch of people because of COVID. That call was…interesting…to say the least. I am very fortunate to work with these companies, especially with one of them creating a vaccine to help people.
- I celebrated 5 years with Brad Frost Web. When I say I work with my brother, many people say that they couldn’t do it. I’m lucky that we respect and trust one another to make it work well. The random quotes from 90s comedies help too.
- I worked with a bunch of great people internally. I am so glad I get to work with incredibly talented people like Dan Mall and Josh Clark again. I am also happy to have worked with a great designer Geof Crowl, an insanely good producer/project manager Jessi Hall, and super intelligent developer Tim Shelburne. I have learned a lot from all of you and thank you for that.
- I reignited my passion for music. I’ve always enjoyed playing music, especially drums. I started playing guitar again and posted videos on social media to deal with everything going on day-to-day. I was able to collaborate with others as well which was a lot of fun.
- I hope that people are alright once the world is in a more stable state. A lot of negativity has been absorbed by many. I hope that these bruises heal fully whether it’s mental and/or physical health, financial security, social injustice, or anything else. You learn to control the things you can in times of anxiety. You can’t boil the ocean and try to fix everything all at once. If you are reading this, you have made it to the end of one of the most trying years of your life, if not the most difficult year. I am glad you are still here with us and I wish you greener grass ahead.
- I realized this year that I try to be the glue in the cracks between web design and development. With all of the stuff that happened with my family, I tried my best to be the glue that held things together. Whether it was tackling our professional work while Brad was dealing with his emergencies or taking on any other tasks to help, I wanted to assist in whatever capacity I could. I want to make sure to help out more people in 2021.
- I want to stay healthy and keep moving. Meghan is a hell of a cook and baker, so it’s hard to eat healthy. Exercise has been extremely therapeutic to me during the past couple years and I am glad to continue it moving forward.
- Plenty of potential work is swirling around for next year. I’m hoping that I can join in on these projects, learn something new, and make better web products for clients.
- I want to make sure that I don’t take people for granted in 2021. 2020 limited a lot of human interaction. I want to make sure to embrace opportunities to get together with friends and family when it is safe to do so. Looking forward to hugging a lot of people when that time comes.
- Most of all, I hope we can all come together and work towards a better future. People aren’t meant to be isolated from one another. I think we need to learn to be human beings again. We need to learn to talk and listen to each other, whether we agree or disagree on things. I hope that the truth and love always win out. We can always be kinder. We can always be better.
I want to wish all of you a safe and healthy 2021. I hope we can smile more and laugh more in the upcoming years. Please take care of each other and I hope to have a drink or some delicious food with you soon. Take care, everyone.