Life Looks Different Now

This time last year, we were in the beginning stages of lockdown. A lockdown that would spread globally and forever wreck our way of life. Our world was instantly gripped with fear and trepidation. We didn’t know much about this virus, except that it had a virility that could kill. This time last year, I was truthfully scared out of my mind.

I remember working in the Emergency Room at the time and thinking to myself that this virus was going to change EVERYTHING. Little did I know just how widespread that change would be and how long that change would last. Reflecting back over the past year, I find it extremely challenging to put into words what this year taught me and how the events changed me. But I think that this benchmark of time warrants some pondering and reflection. First of all, let me just say that it’s amazing to be on the “other side” of this. Working as a healthcare provider amidst a global pandemic is the most difficult and taxing thing I’ve ever done. But as more and more individuals get vaccinated and cases continue to go down, I’ve found a new sense of hope. Things may never “return to normal,” but maybe that’s a good thing that life looks different now.

The event that marked quarantine for me was the passing of my husband’s grandfather, his Papa. He passed away on March 10th, however we attended a funeral and graveside service with family and friends on March 16th, 2020 in Augusta, GA. The timing of it was all too perfect. A few weeks later and I don’t know if we would have been able to have a funeral like we did. It was the beginning of when things were shutting down and restrictions were being made. We didn’t even wear masks at the time (I know, crazy right?!?), because those recommendations hadn’t even been made by the CDC. But from that point forward, everything about life changed.

Here are a few pictures/snapshots from the past year that I think encapsulate the spirit of quarantine well. Mask-wearing became commonplace, as did celebrating birthdays virtually and worshipping from home. It was a weird year to say the least, but I think we tried to make the best of it.

March: Papa’s funeral in Augusta, meat shortages in supermarkets, churches closed down for in-person services, attempted to make sourdough starter
April: Cary refinished our dining room table, virtual Palm Sunday & Easter, Zoom 27th birthday with takeout Mexican and chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting
May: perfected my homemade margarita recipe, got used to wearing masks at work, got more interested in indoor plants
June: first reunion with my parents since quarantine, 1st anniversary trip to Sugar Mountain, NC
July: organized my spice rack, reunited with Milly for the first time since my wedding,
August: Hurricane Isaias came through Myrtle Beach as a Cat 1, Cary perfected his Old-Fashioned recipe
September: day trip to Wilmington, NC for ACLS training
October: weekend getaway to Savannah, GA; got terminated from my job in the ER, bach weekend for Karen in Charleston, SC, early voted in presidential election
November: Cary turned 30, finally found a hairstylist in MB that I love, flew for the first time since October 2019 for thanksgiving in Louisville, KY
December: got to see my Grandparents for the first time in over a year, went to Night of a Thousand Candles at Brookgreen Gardens, second married Christmas, started my new job in hospital medicine, got my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, celebrated the Tate wedding on New Years Eve in Charlotte, NC
January: watched the inauguration of our 46th president,
February: visited Grandaddy Walker for the last time before he passed
March: first Snyder family reunion since COVID, my Grandaddy Walker passed away on Palm Sunday

How does my life look different now?

Over the course of the past year, I think many things that I took for granted were stripped away from me. Things like community, constancy, family, and career. Things I placed my hope and trust in that weren’t God came up short again and again AND again. Right when my husband and I had started getting involved in a small group after moving to Myrtle Beach, churches shut down and we were no longer able to meet in-person. The fear of shift cuts and furloughs became an all too real reality. I got rejected by family members because of my “high risk” status as a frontline worker. I got terminated from my first job as a PA because of budget cuts. Every idol I’d made for myself was proving to be fleeting and empty. And it felt like God was trying to prove something to me: everything that wasn’t him was coming up short. But it felt like it was all happening at once, like a domino effect, idols were being revealed one after another.

So to answer the question, my life looks different now in the fact that I’m a little more weathered and worn. I’ve experienced more loss and heartache. I’ve experienced trauma. I’ve felt more loneliness, anxiety, outrage, pity, empathy, and uncertainty than I think I ever have. I’m learning to hold things more loosely, to not hold such a tight grip on the things of this world. I’m also not as shocked to hear bad news anymore, it just feels more commonplace. I think I’m realizing that God’s goodness isn’t dependent on my circumstances. He is good even if not, and that’s a really heavy lesson to learn.

What major changes happened in 2020?

Well, the biggest physical change for me has been my job. I started my first PA job in September 2019 in the Emergency Department and was actually a part of a Physician Assistant ER Residency. I was doing resident shifts and PA shifts and attending weekly GME (Graduate Medical Education) grand rounds and lectures. I was immersing myself in Emergency Medicine. But then in October 2020 on a Friday morning, I got a phone call that my position would no longer be available. I’d been terminated. That “t” word still makes me cringe typing it. I’d never been terminated from a position before and to be fired from your first position as a PA just felt like a sucker-punch to the gut. Thankfully (*God wink*) an opening was available with the Hospital Medicine APC group within my same hospital system, so I quickly interviewed and got offered the position. I didn’t even have ONE day of being unemployed or losing my benefits. I finished full-time in the ER on November 31st, and started full-time in HM on December 1st. It was totally the Lord’s provision throughout that whole transition, but dang was it a test of my faith!

What’s the most memorable lesson learned this year?

CLING TO GOD AND CAST YOUR BURDENS ON HIM. God LOVES you. Let me say that again a little louder: GOD LOVES YOU! When your circumstances fail you, when your job fails you, when your finances fail you, when your friends/family fail you, when your spouse fails you, when your health fails you, you have to remember that God alone will never fail you. So when you feel troubled, dismayed, brokenhearted, lonely, forgotten, you have to remember that Jesus himself has experienced ALL those emotions too. God knows intimately how you feel and wants to walk with you through those trials. You have an advocate all day everyday, and he is anxious to commune with you daily.

But during quarantine I’ve found myself internalizing a lot of my burdens, because I feel like they aren’t as big or as important as other people’s. Like I didn’t have a family member die of COVID, so I shouldn’t feel as bad about the loss of my Grandaddy Walker to Parkinson’s. Or I’m a privileged white female, I shouldn’t bemoan my circumstances when my black counterparts are struggling to establish systemic equity. Or I’m financially stable, so I shouldn’t complain about having a job in a specialty I didn’t seek out. I’m akin to trying to rationalize my burdens away, but God wants to hear about them unfiltered from my lips. So if you’re feeling like your worries or fears aren’t enough to surrender over to God, I would implore you to invite God into your heart conversations. Nothing is too small for him to care about!

Are you fearful of the future?

I think I’d be a liar if I said “no”. I’m very fearful of a repeat of 2020. I’m fearful that if COVID numbers go up again, I could lose my job. I’m fearful that if our vaccines “wear off,” quarantine will happen again. And the last thing I want to do is live in fear, but it sounds an awful like my current reality. So yes, I’m fearful but I’m hopeful at the same time. I think it’s normal even healthy to feel two emotions at once. I’m fearful of the future because I’ve seen what can happen in the past, but I place my hope and trust in Christ knowing that he is in control of all things.

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