2020: The Crappy Year in Review by Rebecca Heflin

This time last year I was making my holiday preparations, which included the honor of presiding over the marriage of my nephew and his fiancée on Christmas Day—a truly joyous way to spend the holiday. This time last year, I was looking forward to a new year, fresh with the promise of a new start. Which meant, this time last year, I was blissfully ignorant of what was to come.

Instead, I was naively planning two international trips, a local canoe and camping trip, several charity events, two weddings, countless family and social gatherings, and the celebration of my 25th wedding anniversary.

Who could have imagined it wouldn’t be long before the world would be living the plot of some sci-fi thriller?

January and February bumped along as normal, with work, exercise classes, dinners with friends, and preparations for the release of my 10th novel. By the end of February, the dark edges of the coming storm were visible.

The first weekend in March was my birthday. I celebrated it that Friday with dinner out and a show at our local performing arts center. There was also an out of town wedding that Saturday, which my husband and I attended. Looking back, being in those very public venues probably wasn’t the smartest decision on our part, but the tidal wave had not yet hit out area. March 17th was my last day in the office, as the university I work for shut down, and sent its employees home to work remotely. It would be only a day or two later when the entire state would go under lock down.  Again, in my naiveté, I thought things would be back to normal in a month or so. Silly me. 

Zoom meetings would become a regular occurrence in my daily life, and the next few months were a blur of fear and adjustments, as my husband and I created new routines for ourselves. We limited our grocery shopping to once a week. If we didn’t pick up an item during that weekly visit, we just lived without until the following week. Toilet paper (when the store had it) was priced at roughly the equivalent of a gram of gold. Preparing for grocery shopping felt a little like preparing to enter a contaminated laboratory: masks, hand sanitizer, and disinfecting wipes at the ready. After returning home, it felt like entering a decontamination unit: washing hands, wiping down groceries, and disinfecting everything we touched.

We watched in horror as the numbers rose and people died—many of them frontline workers. I obsessed over the daily case counts, horrified when we hit 1 million cases in the U.S., not even considering that we would reach double-digit case counts in a few short months.

It wasn’t all bad, however. We also watched the world come together in a common experience. Music and voices rose from city terraces. Drive-by birthday, anniversary, and graduation ceremonies became a thing with horns beeping, lights flashing, and signs waiving. Humanity found a way to celebrate life’s milestones even amid a pandemic.

For me, working from home meant no commute. This freed up time for other things. And the lack of social engagements and other commitments meant time for jigsaw puzzles, minor home improvements, and gardening. Not to mention more quality time with my husband. We had a beautiful spring—cooler than average temperatures, and beautiful low-humidity days—which gave us the opportunity for more outdoor activities like corn-hole games, bike rides, and long walks. Life slowed down, and I couldn’t complain about that.

As we learned more about how the virus was spread, and businesses opened up again, we developed a routine that gave us a little more flexibility. Masked and otherwise following the public health guidelines, we gradually began to leave our sterile cocoon. We had friends over for outdoor socially-distanced dinners (BYOF). We began supporting our local restaurants with take out or delivery, eventually feeling comfortable dining outside at our favorites.

In May, my husband and I celebrated a quiet, but romantic 25th wedding anniversary—not exactly how we had imagined, but nice just the same.

We took three short driving vacations, 2 to the mountains of North Carolina, and 1 to the beach in the Florida panhandle. The change of scenery provided a welcome respite to the sameness of the daily routines.

After working remotely for 6 months, I returned to my office, but still isolated from my co-workers. I only see them masked and walking in the hallway or on Zoom. It was surreal when I entered my office in September to see the calendar still on March.

Here we are again with Christmas and New Year’s fast-approaching. There is a light, in the form of vaccines, at the end of this long dark tunnel that is 2020. It will take some time, and more patience is necessary, but we will get there. We will overcome this. The world did it in 1918-1919, and we will do it in 2020-2021.

But will the world ever be the same again? I, for one, won’t be. I am forever changed by this experience. I will never again be blissfully ignorant. I have lost my innocence.

Even so, not all the changes are bad. I have come to appreciate so many things I took for granted: my health, my family, freedom of movement, hugs and kisses shared among family and friends, big gatherings and shared social experiences. And my good fortune. Throughout it all, I have wanted for none of life’s necessities. I can’t ask for more than that from the crappy year that was 2020.

About Rebecca Heflin

I've dreamed of writing romantic fiction since I was fifteen and my older sister sneaked a copy of Kathleen Woodiwiss' Shanna to me and told me to read it. Now I write women's fiction and contemporary romance under the name Rebecca Heflin. In case you're wondering, Rebecca Heflin is an abbreviated version of my great-great grandmother's name: Sarah Anne Rebecca Heflin Apple Smith. Whew! And you wondered why I shortened it. When not passionately pursuing my dream, I am busy with my day-job at a large state university or running the non-profit cancer organization my husband and I founded. I'm a member of Romance Writers of America (RWA), Florida Romance Writers, RWA Contemporary Romance, Savvy Authors, and Florida Writers Association. My mountain-climbing husband and I live at sea level in sunny Florida.
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9 Responses to 2020: The Crappy Year in Review by Rebecca Heflin

  1. gailingis says:

    This is a beautiful post on the sci-fi-thriller you just wrote! Laughing has always been the best medicine of all. Thanks for sharing, Rebecca. Missing the gang and missing doing my blog for SMP!

  2. gailingis says:

    Reblogged this on and commented:

    Great post by a fellow author, Rebecca Heflin. Enjoy!

      • gailingis says:

        Welcome! A pleasure. It’s a great blog. Would you like to post it on my blog, I can use your bio, to introduce you, and we can post your blog, with all your books. I could ask a couple of questions, like what got you into writing, and how long have you been writing. Next week/ I blog on
        Mondays 7 am. Can you also provide some images? I’ll send you this week’s blog. It’s really just a recipe, but you can peruse my others since 2011. I should still have your email Diane Farb. If this interests you please let me know.

  3. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on “the experience” Rebecca.

  4. sueberger3 says:

    Thank you for sharing your experience. It is indeed been an insane year.
    My grandson Eugene was born January 10 Anyone remember January the wildfires in Australia?
    My work shut down on Friday the 13th. I was working on Joel Coen’s film Macbeth. We didn’t get back to work on that till July 27. I have no idea when it will come out in the theatres.
    I have taken two trips to Michigan to help out my oldest son with his daughter Ella who is on the autism spectrum. Jim works from home and that’s almost impossible to care for Ella and work at the same time. My younger son Chris whose wife works from home brings my two grandsons to my house Monday through Friday 9 to 7 both Chris and I are actors. His side businesses – bartending and catering completely shut down. Both of us have Airbnb‘s and those are shut down tooL
    My Children’s Book publisher closed its doors. I had two more books due out from them. Life is definitely looking different but I agree with you this is not 1918. This is not World War II where we have no sugar and no gasoline and the terror of a telegram hung over people. We are so blessed to have the Internet, zoom, communication, health, and so much more. I pray for all myself SouIies. And all people everywhere.

  5. Thank you for your comments, Sue. We just have to remind ourselves this isn’t permanent, and though it may not happen over night, we will eventually get back to our lives.

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