2020: Wow

This special end of year blog post is dedicated to Sidney, my wife. Her selflessness and leap of faith made this unforgettable year possible.
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So, um, did anything happen in 2020?

Wow, people. What can I say? Best of luck to the next nine years of the decade because I don’t know if any of them will come close to topping 2020—for better and for worse.

In a pre-pandemic, early 2020 society we had the extremely good fortune of welcoming Beau Thomas Reser into the world without strict social distancing measures in place. Conversely, we didn’t have the good fortune of taking Beau home shortly after his birth. A 10-day stay at the McLeod Regional Medical Center NICU in Florence, South Carolina, tested us more than we imagined. But with talented medical professionals and the will of God, we had Beau home with us by mid-February.

Beau’s birth was our highlight of 2020

In early March, an 18-wheeler pulled up to our house and packed up our belongings. A couple days later I would be on a plane to Spokane to a start a job at Washington State University. Sidney and the kids stayed behind with her parents for what was to be a month-long stay to let Beau mature a bit before making the long flight.

My plane landed in snowy Spokane in March.

In mid-March, I reported to my office on campus in Pullman. It would be my only day on the premises. That afternoon we received the directive to work from home after the governor locked down the state. I have been working remotely ever since. The coronavirus made it necessary for Sid to delay travel, pushing their arrival date out west to Mother’s Day weekend.

I was all smiles my first (and only) day on campus.

During the summer we moved into our new home in the Spokane Valley. Sid, Sloan Beau, and I developed a routine and really started to enjoy our new way of life. The summer was filled with picnics, cookouts, and parks.

Many summer days were spent at parks in the Spokane area.

The pleasant summer nights transitioned to the crisp autumn mornings that the inland northwest is famous for. Beau conquered helmet therapy, Sloan started school at St. Mary, Sidney found a supportive community at the gym, and I continued to enjoy each day at my new job.

This was Sloan on her first day of school.

As we entered the final quarter of the year, Sid’s parents came to visit. Halloween was the best yet as Sloan trick-or-treated with her cousins. Sid and I pushed each other during a six-week weight loss challenge. For the first time in a long time, my parents had the blessing of having all their kids and grandchildren at the same Thanksgiving table…and again for an early Christmas celebration in mid-December. We then capped off the year in the same place it started—Myrtle Beach—surrounded by Sid’s incredible family.

Sloan as Poppy and Beau as a pumpkin during Halloween 2020.

In a year that was filled with so many major events, two big F’s really helped us…

Our faith kept us grounded and sane throughout the past 12 months. The power of prayer helped us a lot, whether it was in the delivery room, by Beau’s bedside in the NICU, or just daily petitions as the pandemic raged. In early March, Sid was welcomed into the Catholic Church and Beau was baptized at the same ceremony. It was a beautiful morning as both our families and the St. Andrew community shared in the special day.

On February 27, Beau was baptized and Sid was welcomed into the Catholic Church at St. Andrew Parish in Myrtle Beach

The support we received from our Myrtle Beach parish made it hard to leave when we moved but we found another fabulous faith community at St. Mary in the Spokane Valley. Not only did it become our home for mass and the sacraments but it also became Sloan’s home for her education as we enrolled her in the preschool program. Sid and I also joined a Catholic young adult group that has been great.

Sloan is now a student at St. Mary Catholic School and completed its fun run during the fall.

The second MAJOR component that has helped us tremendously through the year is family. We spent the first three months and the last two weeks of 2020 with Sid’s family. We were so grateful for their help and support as we prepared to move. It wasn’t easy for them or us—saying goodbye was extremely difficult—but they were so gracious assisting us during such a stressful time. Ending the year with Sid’s parents, sisters, significant others, nephews, and niece sure has been nice. Like Sidney says, it is like we picked up right where we left off in terms of dynamic. I sure am thankful to have them in our corner.

It has been such a great time spending the past several days with Sid’s family, including Russell and Harrison, our niece and nephew.

My family pulled out the red carpet and did everything humanely possible to provide the four of us with a smooth transition when we arrived in Spokane. My parents opened their home, provided endless childcare, encouraged us to take date nights, and offered so much more to help us adjust. Being able to spend more time with my siblings was another bright spot. We are all really close and the amount of time the three of us and our spouses got to hang out together was extremely rewarding. But perhaps even better than that was seeing Sloan become best friends with her cousins, Mikayla and Johnny. 2020 was definitely the sweetest of homecomings.

It has been so nice living in the same state as my family.

Of course this year would not have been possible without the support, flexibility, and resolve of my incredible wife. Sidney dropped everything and took a gigantic step out of familiarity to let us pursue an opportunity. I can’t say enough about her bravery and selflessness. There was never a doubt who this blog post would be dedicated to. Love you, Sid!

I am thankful and indebted to Sid.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the cloud that hung over 2020. A ruthless pandemic took hold of the world and made this year miserable for millions. Our family was lucky in that we just faced minor inconveniences. We are thankful for our good fortune but know that it is not a given that 2021 will be as kind. To those who suffered in 2020, I hope tomorrow brings the start of healing.

In closing, I am anticipating a quieter year in 2021…and I am fine with that. We had enough excitement in 2020 to last us a few years. Thank you to everyone who either played a role in our year or lived vicariously through it. See you in the new year. Don’t Blink.

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