Dear Class of 2020… Love, Your Friend, Jane


Dear Class of 2020,

If you knew things were all about to change, would you live life any differently? Would you even want to know?

As Mark Twain once said, “Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.” But for the class of 2020, it did not take twenty years to feel the magnitude of our missed moments. For myself, there were a lot of emotions that came with learning that I would never wake up unreasonably early to park my car on Spencer Avenue again, that I could never doze off while discussing the evidence of lactase persistence in a certain gene, and that I will never roll out my yoga mat on a Monday morning and hear about everything that happened the weekend before. I now know that I would never walk down Union Avenue in the freezing cold to move my car fourth period, and I will never dread walking back to make it to economics class afterwards. The realization that I will never need to stand up and yell at a room full of 25 of my peers for 80 minutes about mock businesses hit harder than I would like to admit. I know I will never race to Best Market with my friends and struggle to make it back inside before calculus class, and I will not even get to terribly act out Death of a Salesman 10th period. Maybe it is not that I regret not doing those things—because they certainly were done—but I regret not doing them like they would never be done again.

Undoubtedly, missing these senior milestones that we have observed with excitement for three years is not an easy pill to swallow. It is impossible not to stare at the spring uniforms that we never got to wear and regret not playing just a little bit harder, maybe staying in that locker room just a little longer on March 13. I cannot help but flip through that last edition of Horizon, that still sits on my desk every day, and think about all the things I would have done differently if I knew I would never have the opportunity to do them again. It is funny how things work; every issue comes back to one common theme: not having enough time. Now, all we have is time and nothing to do with it but think and regret.

It is human nature to reminisce and feel sad about all that we, as a grade, are missing out on, but even in doing so it is hard to keep out the guilt. We are allowing ourselves to be upset when there are problems that are beyond us, after all there is a pandemic going on.

On Mar. 26, my mother’s cousin was hospitalized with COVID-19. He was quickly put on a ventilator and remained on one for the next couple of weeks. He was heavily sedated and was given medicine that induces paralysis. Doctors had told his wife that his odds of survival were not great, and for many weeks, his four children, the youngest turning three shortly, had to wonder if they would soon have to say goodbye to their father. Sixteen days later, he was taken off the ventilator only to be put back on after 36 hours. Through all of the uncertainty and pain, his wife, whom my mother called at least three times a week for updates, still thought to ask how I was doing. She took time to ask about my college decision process and offered her condolences that my already limited time with my friends was being cut shorter. She was going through the unimaginable and still had time to think about me. I felt almost guilty to feel sorry for myself knowing her problems are undoubtedly bigger than mine, but she reassured me that my emotions during this time are valid. I was reminded that it is normal to feel stressed, confused, scared, or angry during a time like this, and that reminder was all it really took to make me not feel that way. Letting go of the guilt of feeling those emotions in a way made those feelings feel a little less bad.

My mother’s cousin soon recovered in time for his son’s third birthday. He still sleeps with an oxygen tank and still endures the psychological damages deemed “ICU delirium,” but he is alive, which is more than what was expected at some points.

With this, we need to be grateful for our health and all of the privileges we have during this time that maybe those around us do not, but we must not discredit what we are feeling because of that. Our emotions are raw and deserve to be felt, regardless of how otherwise fortunate we are.

I cannot firmly say that forgetting our missed moments will not take time and healing. But I know you, Class of 2020. I know that we were brought into the world during the aftermath of 9/11. I remember enduring and surviving hurricane Sandy during our final year of elementary school. This is nothing we have not done before, and it is nothing we cannot do again. We need to embrace every experience, the good and the bad. We need to learn to not regret what we did or did not do and instead plan to live the way we wish we had, in the future. And, for myself, I have decided that if I knew things were all going to change, I would not have lived my life any differently. In fact, I would not have even wanted to know at all. And, I wish the same realization for all of you.

 Love, your friend,