Wonderful Year 2021

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The past two years have been hard for everyone. I’ve lost so many people to COVID that I don’t bother to keep count anymore. It’s more than 10. Last year was especially difficult. Despite the challenges, I have to say that 2021 was a wonderful year.

One of my favorite holiday movies is It’s A Wonderful Life. It’s not all unicorns and rainbows. It’s about the lowest point in a person’s life and how a community came together to help them. It sounds cheerful, but the ending is only happy in contrast to the dark depths of despair that led to the conclusion.

This year was one of my most challenging. I lost my job for the first time ever. In over 25 years of working, I have never been unemployed before. On top of that, someone stole my identity and committed fraud on my social security number so I was not able to access unemployment. To add insult to injury, my former employer knew about the fraud – at least 5 months before they terminated me – and never told me about it or did anything to respond to the Department of Labor’s inquiry about suspicious activity, 

I was absolutely terrified last spring that I was going to end up homeless, separated from the cats, dead from COVID, or some combination of the three. I’ve lived through some pretty tough times, but last spring was the worst.

One friend from childhood stepped up and organized a GoFundMe for me. People I’ve never met donated. It took a community, but that community and those donations paid our monthly bills while I was unemployed and searching for work. It took me two months to find a new job.

Thankfully in the middle of this mess, internet service and improved cell phone service finally reached my rural little area. I was able to find a permanent remote job. I am able to pay the bills and keep us all together.

Much like Bedford Falls came together to help George, the pets and humans of Cats of Twitter (and also just kind humans), came together to help me. I cannot express how thankful I am and always will be for the kindness and generosity that helped us through that trying time. Unemployment is not something I ever want to experience again.

It truly has been a wonderful year.

I am thankful that I am able to work from home. I can be home with the cats. They are my favorite coworkers. I will always treasure this time I am getting to be at home with them. 

I am thankful that 2021 was the best year of my running career in nearly a decade. This was my highest mileage year since 2015. In 2016, I was in the hospital with a bad MS epsiode. It’s been a long, hard road to get back to this point. Not only was this my highest mileage year, but I successfully completed two half marathons within a week of each other. 

I typically have to space my races 5-6 months apart. I have never had races this close on the calendar before. I was able to achieve medals 19 and 20. It’s hard to believe that we are in the middle of a global pandemic, and I currently have 20 marathon medals. 

Sometimes I do get sad and lonely about all of the people I have lost in the pandemic. I can list on my fingers the number of people I know from before the pandemic who are still alive. The people I lost cannot be replaced. However, this past year, I have made new friends. I think I have more friends right now than I have ever had in my life. I am so grateful for each one. I treasure every one.

All of the friends I have made, I have not met in person. I have met them online through the amazing Cats of Twitter community. Yes, we are on Twitter. My cats are very popular on the internet and they don’t even know it.

I treasure the friends I have made. Some talk to me daily. It’s nice to have people to talk to again about my day and to hear about how their day went. I love learning about new people, new places, new cultures. In a world of pandemic cruelty, there are still good and kind people in this world.

We sent more Christmas photo cards this year than we have ever sent. (I do still have some left, so if we missed you, let me know,) I do Chrsitmas photo cards so people can see the cats. The past few years in the pandemic, they have become the only way people get to see me too.

I have a friend in England who sent me a package of the most beautiful Chrismtas presents I have ever received. We have never met in real life, but I feel like she knows me. Each gift was useful, meaningful, and precious. The artwork above was done by her daughter of the three cats for me.

Another package arrived the week before Christmas unlabeled. I had to figure out who sent it (I did). It was from another online friend I have never met and was filled with presents. It’s not the presents themselves that mattered. It’s the kindness and the thoughtfulness in them. Again, this person has never met me in person, and yet every item seemed like it was chosen just for me. Every present was perfect.

I was in foster care when younger. I remember getting Christmas presents and feeling like a third wheel. I was one of those kids you “adopt” for the holidays – the ones where you pick a tag off a charity tree to shop for a 15 year old girl. Yes, I received lovely, age appropriate gifts. Yes, I was thankful to receive the gifts and to be remembered on Christmas. Yet, the gifts were not personal. It was just a tag on a tree where some stranger bought presents for a child they never met.

Even though I have not met my online friends in-person, the gifts they sent me were all personal. I feel so special and so loved. For the first time in my life, I am not just a tag on a charity tree. People cared enough to do something nice for me.

Of course, the best gift this Christmas is the fact that the cats and I are still together. We are together thanks to the kindness and generosity of strangers who stepped up and helped us during our time of need last spring. I will be forever grateful to all the people who donated to keep us all together this year. I am in awe and amazement of your kindness. It is humbling.

As challenging as 2021 may have been, it really has been a wonderful year. 
Thank you to everyone for loving us and supporting us through these challenging times. I am amazed and delighted that there is still kindness in the world. I am so thankful for the time I get to spend with the cats helping them live their best lives. 

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