OPINION

2021: Year in Review

Trevor Soderstrum

A year-and-a-half ago, I had a health scare. I stubbed a toe, causing an almost unnoticeable cut on my foot. I ended up spending four days in the hospital and having surgery as a result. It has left me with a slightly altered stride. If it is the worst thing that happens in my life, I am blessed.

Because I now walk differently, large calluses have built up on the bottom of my feet. A couple of months ago, a toe callus on my bad foot just fell off. If I had not spent time in the hospital, it would not have bothered me. Put a band-aid on it and forget about it. But, when the voices of the surgeon and the anesthesiologist arguing whether you are strong enough to survive the surgery is somewhere in the back of your head, it causes a little worry about fresh injuries. 

Trevor Soderstrum

At such times, Neosporin becomes your best friend. You live with the constant fear that tomorrow you will be making another trip to the emergency room. The constant worry wears on you. All you can do is keep as much weight as possible off of it and hope that everything heals properly. But it is tiring all the same.

It altered my walk even more, which had the unforeseen consequence just before Christmas of cracking a large callus right in the center of my good foot. All of a sudden, just as I thought I was out of the woods with the previous injury, I have a whole new wound to worry about. It was exhausting. In my best poor me moment, it made me wonder if God was out to get me or something.

Again, in the great scheme of things, these small injuries are nothing. You do the best you can do and hope things work out. You don’t need the extra pressure of depression and fear. Sometimes a fresh fear or concern can magnify all the other fears and concerns you have in your life. It can feel like the straw that breaks the camel’s back. All your worries become too much. The Israelites might have wandered around the wilderness for 40 years relying on God’s manna. A few days of hoping things work out can be a little bit too much for you and me.

My father has had leg cramps in the middle of the night for years. The silence of the night would be broken by a scream. The only way to get rid of the pain is to walk on it until it goes away. It was not an uncommon sight to see him parading through the house in the middle of the night like a soldier in the French Foreign Legion staggering through the desert.

When I was younger and more callused than my feet are now, I thought this was hilarious to witness. I am my father’s son. I now get them. On New Year’s Eve, I got one. Lightning-like pain woke me out of a dead sleep. The only way I could make the pain go away was to walk on it. As I put my foot on the ground, I realized I was in a catch-22. Walking on the broken callus, especially with all the band-aids removed hurts. To not walk on my wound as my leg cramped up hurt even more.

In the middle of the night, in the darkness, I made my painful way around the house followed by a gassy bulldog who has eaten too much turkey over the holidays who thinks this march will end with more snacks for him. Each step brought a fresh wave of pain. Have you ever been so worn out, so exhausted, that you start to laugh at the ridiculousness of it all?

In many ways, it was a good summary of the previous year. COVID has been exhausting. It was the added wound placed on top of us in a world already filled with pressures and concerns. It can feel like a world we are drowning in. With COVID, life just seemed to stop. Simple things like going to the bank or the store became more difficult. Like the bugle of the cavalry, a vaccine was announced. We would soon be out of this nightmare. Yet, here we are. New variants. New wounds. When we need love the most, society has never been more distant.

Twenty-twenty-one was exhausting to begin with. It started out with broken glass, angry voices and blood. We discovered our democracy was more fragile than we thought. Our political and racial divide has somehow gotten greater since. The Supreme Court will soon rule on Roe v. Wade, releasing a whole new box of vipers into our society. We seem more unwilling to see our brother and sister in those we are taught to hate and refuse to understand.

Hollywood responded to our despair by giving us some of the most depressing films to ever be nominated for an Oscar. Droughts and fires marked our summer. Freak storms and an unusually warm weather waltzed us into the winter reminding us that climate change is real. It is so exhaustively ridiculous it can make a person laugh. Yet, here is hoping that 2022 is better for all of us. There is hope and healing ahead.