This week is both my birthday and the official anniversary of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m anticipating it but also feel very triggered. In psychology, it’s known as the anniversary effect. We can have a sometimes unconscious association between a date or time of year and an emotional memory or trauma.
There have been all these story call-outs lately. NPR Weekend Edition host Lulu Garcia-Navarro asked people on Twitter to use #TheMoment to share when they realized that things were going to be different at the start of the pandemic. My colleagues at Alaska Public Media are asking the same: What was the moment when you realized everything had changed?
March 11, 2020, was the last time I hosted a party and shared food (finger food!) with friends. A few days later, my son’s preschool closed for what turned out to be months, and I converted my tiny bedroom closet into the nerve center for KTOO News. We promised to ramp up our news coverage last March, and we haven’t looked back.
The changes are too big, too disruptive and too numerous for me to even reflect on. And I think that’s the short-circuiting I’m feeling in my brain — the complicated emotions that come with that anniversary effect.
It’s important to guard ourselves against that this week, to be prepared to be triggered, to feel all that disappointment and that loss again. While I get a lump in my throat when I think about my birthday party last year, I find comfort in the incredible work my team has managed to produce from extenuating circumstances all year. I even find comfort thinking about the countless hours, weeks and months I’ve spent under the same roof as my toddler, who somehow stopped being a toddler in the last year. I’m amazed when I think about the skills he’s acquired from this hemmed in space and this surreal year.
How have you expanded in the last year? What can you be grateful for during this time of grief? I’d love to hear from you.
-- Jennifer Pemberton, KTOO Managing Editor