Last March, a group called Hearts of Okanagan started with the idea of putting up hearts in our windows in an effort to show we are in this together even though we were isolated at home at the time. Painted rocks started showing up all over the community with messages of hope. (Facebook)

Last March, a group called Hearts of Okanagan started with the idea of putting up hearts in our windows in an effort to show we are in this together even though we were isolated at home at the time. Painted rocks started showing up all over the community with messages of hope. (Facebook)

COLUMN: We have lost so much in the last year, but hopefully not our hope

It might be at the fringes of our hearts right now, but hope is there

March 11, 2021 marks one year since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 to be a global pandemic.

One year ago this week, I was sitting in the lunchroom of the school I was working at, talking to colleagues about the craziness of toilet paper hoarding and how I was debating whether or not to cancel my spring break vacation to Hawaii.

It was a scary time of unknowns and confusion. Our eyes were glued to the news each night as we tried to digest the possibility of this coronavirus spreading around the world and right into our communities.

It seemed impossible to even comprehend. But we knew the panic was setting in as was evidence of hoarding of food and toilet paper. (I still don’t understand why toilet paper was the hot commodity?) Ever since that week, it has been announcement after announcement of bad news that has carried on for a whole year.

We did end up cancelling our trip.

One week later, our PM Justin Trudeau went on national TV to tell all Canadians travelling abroad to come back home “Now.” Don’t wait, don’t delay.

Flights were grounded, schools were shuttered, restaurants and businesses closed, yellow caution tape went up around playgrounds. We watched on the news as make-shift hospitals were being built in China to handle the sick and dying.

I remember my first time going to a grocery store and being terrified. Terrified to touch anything, terrified of breathing other people’s air. Scared of catching this virus no one seemed to know anything about.

Those first few months put all our bodies in a constant fight or flight reaction of fear. Most of our jobs were furloughed or we were working from home. Our kids were home, told not to play with anyone. We couldn’t visit with family. We tried to show a brave, calm face to our child. But he saw the caution tape, he had no interaction with friends or family for many months. Playing in the park wasn’t even safe at the time.

We have all been experiencing a collective trauma but we are not in the same boat. We are in the same storm. It has been extremely damaging to our mental and physical health. We have lost loved ones. Some have died alone because they weren’t allowed any visitors. This seems unfathomable and so very wrong.

Social distancing has been the word of the year.

With fear has brought out the conspiracy theorist and anti-maskers who have taken out their anger and mistrust on innocent retail workers and us in the media as well. There are those who have shown just how selfish humans can be and carried on as if this deadly virus wasn’t among them. They have vacationed and gathered and caused super-spreaders across our province.

All our sacrifices undone by these selfish people.

While there has been so much mental anguish and economic ruin through this pandemic, there is one thing that has held me through to this point (barely, mind you).

That one thing is hope. It might be at the fringes of our hearts right now, but the hope is there. I see it in the stories we write about. From the restaurants that are opening to the businesses that are expanding or pivoting. I see it in the generosity this community has shown to local charities that couldn’t host fundraisers this year. Yet, donations were up for most non-profits.

At the corners of our exhausted brains, there is hope that vaccines will eventually, albeit far too slowly, bring light at the end of this very dark tunnel. I have hope that we will get to hug again, gather, celebrate, have Peach Fest, Iron Man and the Penticton Market and all the other events we enjoy so much. Hope is the one thing that can carry us forward. And if not, at least we have toilet paper!

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Firefighters battled a burning home on farmland in the north end of Vernon Saturday, April 17, 2021. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
UPDATE: Homeowner taken to hospital after Vernon home destroyed by fire

Firefighters engaged in a lengthy battle against the engulfed structure Saturday afternoon

The Regional District of North Okanagan has purchased a watercraft to be used by the BC Conservation Officer Service, who will conduct enhanced boat patrols on the Shuswap River during the 2021 floating season. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
Boat purchased to provide enhanced Shuswap River oversight this floating season

The regional district purchased an extra watercraft to be used by Conservation Officers this year

The West Kelowna Warriors beat the Vernon Vipers 3-2 in BCHL action Friday, April 16, 2021. (Lisa Mazurek Photography)
West Kelowna goaltender stymies Vernon Vipers for 3-2 win

The Warriors were outshot 44-23 Friday night, but it didn’t bother Johnny Derrick

A group of youth in Kelowna's Knox Mountain Park are suspected as having violated the B.C. Wildlife Act by harassing a pair of nesting bald eagles with a drone Friday, April 16, 2021. (Conservation Officer Service photo)
Nesting bald eagles harassed by youth-piloted drone in Kelowna

Conservation Officers are hoping to hear from anyone who witnessed the Knox Mountain incident

Nick Clements captured a photo of the Northern Lights over Oyama Friday night, April 16, 2021. (Nick Clements photo)
PHOTOS: Northern Lights colour Okanagan night

Residents saw the dazzling green aurora borealis throughout the valley Friday night

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

B.C. homeowners are being urged to take steps to prepare for the possibility of a flood by moving equipment and other assets to higher ground. (J.R. Rardon)
‘Entire province faces risk’: B.C. citizens urged to prepare for above-average spring flooding

Larger-than-normal melting snowpack poses a threat to the province as warmer weather touches down

Vancouver-based Doubleview Gold Corp. is developing claims in an area north of Telegraph Creek that occupies an important place in Tahltan oral histories, said Chad Norman Day, president of the Tahltan Central Government. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO)
B.C. Indigenous nation opposes mineral exploration in culturally sensitive area

There’s “no way” the Tahltan would ever support a mine there, says Chad Norman Day, president of its central government

Stz’uminus Elder George Harris, Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone, and Stz’uminus Chief Roxanne Harris opened the ceremony. (Cole Schisler photo)
Symbolic red dresses rehung along B.C. highway after vandals tore them down

Leaders from Stz’uminus First Nation and the Town of Ladysmith hung new dresses on Sat. April 17

A Western toadlet crosses the centre line of Elk View Road in Chilliwack on Aug. 26, 2010. A tunnel underneath the road has since been installed to help them migrate cross the road. Saturday, April 24 is Save the Frogs Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress File)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of April 18 to 24

Save the Frogs Day, Love Your Thighs Day and Scream Day are all coming up this week

Local carpenter Tyler Bohn embarked on a quest to create the East Sooke Treehouse, after seeing people build similar structures on a Discovery Channel show. (East Sooke Treehouse Facebook photo)
PHOTOS: B.C. carpenter builds fort inspired by TV’s ‘Treehouse Masters’

The whimsical structure features a wooden walking path, a loft, kitchen – and is now listed on Airbnb

The Attorney General’s Ministry says certain disputes may now be resolved through either a tribunal or the court system, pending its appeal of a B.C. Supreme Court decision that reduced the tribunal’s jurisdiction. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Court of Appeal grants partial stay in ruling on B.C. auto injuries

B.C. trial lawyers challenged legislation brought in to cap minor injury awards and move smaller court disputes to the Civil Resolution Tribunal

An Extinction Rebellion Vancouver Island (XRVI) climate change event in 2019 saw a large crowd occupy the Johnson Street bridge. Black Press File Photo
‘In grief for our dying world’: B.C. climate activists embark on 4-day protest

Demonstrators will walk through Vancouver for the first two days before boarding a ferry Sunday morning

Most Read