Sometimes, those sneaky little “memories” on Facebook have a way of making you smile or taking your breath away. Often, they’re lovely memories of when I got my puppy or was traveling the world. Other times, they’re photos of people I’ve lost or remembrance of just how long ago something happened.
Yesterday, one popped up from a year ago when we were still at the beginning of the pandemic and I had asked, “How are you? Really, how are you?” The replies flooded in with gut-wrenching honesty. We all were scared, confused, tired and uncertain. I don’t always read through my memories, but this one deserved my attention. I wanted to remind myself where we were and how far we’ve come. I realized I had even written about it in an editor’s note.
I think we all were starting to comprehend we were going to be dealing with this pandemic for more than a couple of weeks. As I read posts from a year ago, I realized there was overwhelming sadness ahead for some who responded and for me. Since that day, some lost spouses, some lost friends and some lost parents. We all lost holidays, human contact, normalcy and true downtime.
So, here we are. There is hope on the horizon, but we’re also not through this. Cases are still rising and new variants emerging. I was relieved to get my second vaccine dose this week, but I’m certainly still scared, confused, tired and uncertain.
Another thing that hasn’t changed is I still really want to know, how are you? And, if you don’t really know yet, that’s OK too. I think we all have changed in ways we might not realize for some time. But let’s never change being there for each other. We have had to find ways to cope together while being alone.
For Beronda Montgomery, Foundation Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, plants became her “beacon of hope.” She penned a beautiful essay in Elle magazine and says, “In the face of these challenging emotions and period of forced reclusion, I continued to take in the emergence of new leaves of the tulips,” that, to her, represented a “hopeful emergence” from the pandemic.
So many students did their best coping by throwing themselves into their studies and trying new things virtually. For Emma Dester, a senior majoring in biosystems and agricultural engineering and the lab manager for the MSU Nano-Biosensors Lab, that meant joining a team for something called the T2Med Hackathon, an international competition where teams of students design a medical innovation.
In addition to being part of the winning team, she also realized that while she hadn’t considered it before, she is excited to have entrepreneurship be a part of her future. Check out her student view, Student View: Solving an unmet medical need to learn more about this enterprising young woman and her experience at the virtual Hackathon.
I look out my window and see plants starting to appear, and I am also watching for a “hopeful emergence.” But even when we do finally emerge from the worst of this crisis, don’t ever stop asking people how they are. Make it more than a pleasantry — make it matter. Make others know that they matter. Every Spartan has the power to change the world, one person at a time. #SpartansWill