An Ode to 2020
By: Sarindee Wickramasuriya
The year the world forced people into isolation to enable much needed introspection;
the year where time stood frozen so that the most pressing issues of our world could be front and center;
the year where passion powered purpose and thought fueled action;
the year where we learned to let our soul be our leader.
It’s been hard, it’s been uncomfortable; it’s required strength, reflection, great loss, and focus; above all, it’s been long overdue and very necessary.
Let the lives we lost not be in vain, but rather serve as a guiding light. A reminder that, if we continue to treat our planet and all its living beings the way we have for the last decade, we won’t have a planet to proudly call our own the next decade. This is the universe’s way of enforcing a hard reset.
The time is now. This is that year.
WOW. Where to even begin? Walking into January of this year, I TRULY thought this is going to be the best year of my life.
I absolutely loved my job at Dyson and was excited to fully lead all the amazing product launches and over 20 events we had planned for the year. On a personal front, my family was healing from a rough few years, healthy, and I was excited to visit them as often as I could to make up for lost time. This also (in my mind) was going to be easy to do since we were planning a wedding together. I was beyond excited to visit Sri Lanka – my beautiful island paradise that I am so lucky to call “home,” but hadn’t gotten to visit in 2 years, to do some wedding shopping and to invite all my family to the wedding in August in person! Speaking of the wedding…most people find weddings “stressful” to plan, but as an event planner and someone who LOVES making magic happen – I was thrilled to get the opportunity to gather our closest family and friends from all around the world and merge together a beautiful few days of Sri Lankan, Indian, Buddhist, and Hindu cultures to celebrate our love. #MixedMarriagesFTW I was excited to finally be able to call the love of my life – Raj – my husband and start the rest of our lives together. Raj had just matched into his last training year – an interventional pain fellowship in CHI and we were looking forward to purchasing our first home and finally setting some roots in one city.
Fast fwd to: March 12th, 2020 – the week of my first Dyson launch event for the year. Cancelled due to COVID-19. Followed by April events being cancelled, May events being cancelled, and news of this virus spreading all over the world and some of our family and friends getting it. Some, even passing away. In the midst of it all, RUSH hospital in CHI (where Raj works) needed all the help they can get and he was pulled in for extra help, as anesthesiologists were front and center of treating these COVID-19 patients. I saw him working crazy hours, be on high alert and stress for the next few weeks. On top of that – me being prone to being sick (thanks, crappy immune system) was forced to quarantine from my fiancé in our one-bedroom apartment. Bring out the air mattress, all the Clorox wipes and sanitizer we can find. Then, when he had a week where he was fully intubating COVID-19 patients, he took hospital housing, packed his stuff, and lived there in the shitty conditions until he could return home again. Eventually, these amazing healthcare heroes got through the worst of it, cases started to decline locally, and things got a little better.
But not good enough. In May, we made the decision to cancel our wedding since the health and safety of our families and friends come first. Plus, happily ever after is always worth the wait!
My ode above sums up what the rest of the year felt like to me. Seeing Black people killed day after day, shining a spotlight on how much racism still exists in America. So many prolific role models, idols, and activists passing away. A ridiculous, incapable, clown of a president unable to handle the respect and attention the Black Lives Matter movement needed, unable to control a pandemic killing our people daily, and ALL other threats to our nation and planet – was sickening. It felt hopeless and grim.
Then came, November. The months (and really years) of what felt “so wrong” and “so not America” urged people to go out and vote. To make their voices heard. And man, did we do just that. When my home state of Georgia flipped (historic) I truly felt my heart sing. We not only elected a new president and VP (YASSS for electing a female, Black, South Asian, child of Immigrants), we proved that America found its soul again. Finally, some HOPE again.
We have one month left of this year and December has always been my favorite. While this year was quite the roller coaster and took away my ability to visit my family and friends, travel the world, go home, and a job role I’m deeply passionate about, a wedding, and much more – I can’t help but focus on the great things the year still brought me.
At the top of that list was TIME. Time to reflect. Time to be with my loved ones and away from my loved ones. Time to read, write, reflect. Time to align and reset. Time to find new passions and purpose. Time to prioritize who and what really and truly matters in this journey of life.
I realized that regardless of how long I have to wait to call Raj my “husband” – I am simply thankful that every passing day we had together this year, reaffirmed that whatever life throws our way, we’ll be just fine as long as we have each other. I realized that whether it’s driving 11 hours, or quarantining for weeks, I’ll do anything to see my family. I realized that health is wealth and finding inner peace is my biggest goal. I realized that when you have real and true friends, you don’t need to physically see them often for y’all to be there for each other. I realized that not having events to plan forced me to work on other passion projects like writing and publishing my first book – something I’ve wanted a long time. I realized how important shaping the future of our youth is to me when I joined two amazing non-profit boards: Boys and Girls Clubs of Chicago and Sri Lankan Youth organization and got to work on projects for underprivileged kids all over the world. Above all, I realized that no matter what life brings – there is truly always a purpose.
So thank you, 2020. It wasn’t part of the plan, but it was proof that sometimes we really do just need to “trust the process.”