This is Death, Sex & Money.
LISTENER: 2020 has taken so many things.
The show from WNYC about the things we think about a lot.
LISTENER: There’s still no light at the end of the tunnel for me.
And need to talk about more.
LISTENER: I guess 2020 just cost me hope.
I’m Anna Sale. A few weeks ago, we asked you...what has 2020 taken from you?
I mean, everything, it's a turd fest.
I've lost travel opportunities.
I lost my home.
My cat, Cinder, to old age.
2020 took from me a normal wedding.
It's also the year I'm saying goodbye to my dreams of becoming a parent.
In July, I lost my Uncle Jorge.
This year, my sense of identity and any feeling of forward progress really has been taken from me.
And I miss seeing my friends. I miss interacting with people.
Just sitting in a coffee shop, I miss that so much.
2020 has taken a lot from many of us. Most of us I'd even say.
This has been a year of great loss. Some of it related to COVID…
I miss platonic human touch.
And some of it not.
2020 is the year I'm saying goodbye to my marriage. And it's the year I'm saying goodbye to financial security. And it sucks and I'm sad and I’m mourning and I’m grieving none of it has to do with the coronavirus or any of the things that everybody else is dealing with. It's just, this is the year that this is what's happening to my life.
Today, we’re going to share some of those messages you sent us, about what 2020 has taken from you. We’re going to mark those losses. Acknowledge them. Sit with them. “Give sorrow words,” as Shakespeare wrote. Because 2020 has been really hard, even if it’s also had silver linings.
LISTENER: There’s been a lot of good things that happened this year, too. Like, if I just told you about the good things, you would assume I had a good year. But unfortunately it feels like the things I lost are eventually going to define my future.
This listener sent in a message from Alexandria, Virginia.
LISTENER: So 2020 in a lot of ways has felt like a constant cycle of loss for me. I lost my job. And as a result that kind of ended up being the straw that broke the camel's back in my relationship. And slowly but surely my girlfriend ended up breaking up with me and I thought we were going to get married. And then she stopped talking to me completely. She just utterly dropped off the face of the planet. That was really hard. While that was happening, within weeks of that happening, I got into a fight with a couple of the, uh, elders at my church, which - I've been at my church since I was nine years old. I'm 36 now. And so it, it felt like a profound loss. And I mean, that's like underneath all of the stress from coronavirus, stress from the election, stress from racial unrest. Like, I'm Black. So, dealing with all of that this year, dealing with the sudden awakening of millions of white people who all of a sudden have all these questions for you, when I've been trying to tell you this this whole time, it just feels hard. It feels like it's been a hard year, just filled with loss.
JEMMA: My name is Jemma and I am from Toronto, Canada. And 2020 has cost me my last year of university, and time with my friends. I also really miss being in class and I miss - I'm nostalgic for the things that I didn't get to do in my last year of university.
LISTENER: 2020 robbed me of the experience of the birth of my first child. Um, I had him April 8th, 2020, which is considered one of the deadliest weeks in New York City during the pandemic. And growing up, I always thought if I were to have a child, my parents would be there. My siblings would be there. I'd be surrounded by love and friendship and joy and excitement. And while I was so in love with my son when he was born, I couldn't help but think, my mom is missing on this experience. My father is missing out on the experience. But also at night, I'm hearing all the codes for all the people that are losing their lives while at the hospital. And so those feelings of anxiety, fear, and just the unknown sit with me even as I reflect on that day. And so for that reason alone, 2020 has just robbed me of what I thought would be the happiest day of my life. And, it is the happiest day of my life, but I still struggle because I know that I was robbed at that experience.
PHYLICIA: Hi. So, I lost my mom this year. Not to COVID, she had heart failure, but she was my most favorite person in the entire world. It's hard. I feel her still, but it's not the same. And you know, on the contrary, I'm so grateful for the time, the extra time that I was with her to hold her, and hug her, and bathe her and love her. But to lose my favorite girl has really shattered me this year.
This next listener sent in a message from Austin, Texas.
LISTENER: The thing that I miss the most in this 2020 world is getting dressed. The joy of getting dressed. And more specifically, the joy of getting dressed for an audience. Leaving the house and interacting with someone at a coffee shop who compliments your outfit and coworkers who compliment your outfits. Oh. And drunk girls in bathrooms. And, you know, I think the joy of getting dressed is often something that is overlooked as frivolous. Um, but in reality, it's like a really substantive choice we make every day about how we interact with the world and how we see ourselves. Um, and I'm still getting dressed at home, but it doesn't carry the same weight.
LISTENER: Right now I'm feeling like 2020 and may have taken what I thought was going to be a "rest of my life" relationship. And it might still hold on. But. The stress of both of us being quarantined together so early in our relationship has been really difficult. So now I don't know what will happen with us, and it feels very scary and very sad. And I'm terrified of being alone during the rest of the pandemic. And yet I'm not sure if I would be happier alone instead of cooped up in a relationship that feels really hard right now.
LISTENER: So I turned 30 in 2020, and my birthday is actually July 14th, on Bastille Day. And years ago, probably around when I was 25, I had this idea that what would be better than spending my 30th birthday in Paris? And I scrimped and saved and made all these sacrifices. And I, I wanted to do it without getting in any debt. So I saved, I paid off all my consumer debt by the time I was 30 and I, um, bought a camper and lived in my camper so that I could save money. And my best friend keeps talking about rescheduling and it just, it feels too soon, emotionally. It can not be the same thing. I cannot be turning 30 again.
LISTENER: Hi Anna. The question of what has 2020 taken from me, is really, really easy to create a list that just goes on and on and on. And the most recent thing that's been taken, um, was, is my belief in the organization that I work for, um, I am a youth minister and summer camp professional. Every job that I've had has been Episcopal-adjacent. That's what my life has revolved around. And just this week I put in my resignation effective at the end of the year. After the unrest in the summer and the collective waking up of our culture to the pain of Black lives, um, and the pain of seeing a new name, a new hashtag come up. Um, and the organization that I work for that says that they are for Christ for all time, and connection. And to see nothing change inside of our building, in which I am the only Black person on our staff. So I am saying goodbye to the most money I've ever made in my life. And a group of incredible high schoolers that I have worked with and mentored and done ministry with and led. And, um, I'm hoping that something that 2020 will take is, it will take some of this resentment and disappointment and allow me to want to go to church and be a part of a church. I - I just know I can't be the - being on the inside is not worth it.
LISTENER: One of the things that was taken from me in 2020 was my best friend of 30 years. She passed away in April from COVID. Um, and at the time, um, I work in one of the - the larger hospitals in Manhattan and my job, um, shifted where, um, instead of being a physical therapist, I wound up fielding phone calls from patients and tracking patients who had been discharged from the hospital with COVID and making sure that they were not getting worse from their symptoms. I think you know, we all wound up with a list of almost, you know, 50 to 75 to a hundred patients, um, that we had to follow. And through all that, which was more stressful in all the 15 years I'd been at the hospital. Um, I didn't realize that my best friend's mother had been sick with COVID and she had been taking care of her. Um, and my best friend had actually caught COVID from her mother. And then I received a phone call, um, from her and, uh, she was hypoxic and she wasn't doing well, and I knew she wouldn't make it. And she didn't. And I lost her. One of the worst things in my life. Here I am, you know, trying to save these other patients make sure they're okay, and I'm following them. And, and the whole time, my best friend, uh, was dying. So, you know, 30 years, 30 years, you know, of hearing her voice and her humor and her great advice and her texts in the morning. Um, and just lost her like that very quickly. She died on a Tuesday and her mother died on a Saturday back to back. They both died. Anyway, that was one of the things, the worst things that happened to me in 2020. And one of the things that was taken from me.
Coming up… more of your messages, about what 2020 has taken from you.
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This is Death, Sex & Money from WNYC. I’m Anna Sale.
Broadway and television actor Nick Cordero died from complications from COVID-19 in July, after a months-long struggle with the disease. He was 41, and left behind a wife and baby son.
His long illness and eventual death was covered by every major news and celebrity media outlet in the U.S. That’s something that his sister-in-law, Annie Horton, wrote in to us about.
ANNIE HORTON: There were a few things associated with Nick's very public death, um, that I think that we, as a family also lost. You know, I think initially the ability to privately cope with Nick becoming sick, you know, that was taken and it was turned into something that was sensationalized. Nick was one of the first people, um, you know, where it was, it was publicized that he was sick. And I think - I believe that people grieve public figures and I don't want to take that grief away, but I do feel like having to navigate around other people's grief when, when they didn't know him or they knew the People Magazine version of Nick, um, you know, it's just not the same. It's just simply not the same and it's hard enough grieving without all of that. And you add in the mix of, of, um, the public and it's just the most bizarre thing. That's the only way I can really describe it.
EV’YAN: My name is Ev’Yan Whitney. I am in Los Angeles. And the most gargantuan thing that I feel has been taken from me has been a U-Haul truck full of all of my things. My baby pictures. My diaries from when I was seven, um, my mementos from my 14-year relationship, my art, all of those things, uh, were stolen from me, from my driveway. And, um, I think for me, what's hardest about this is that this wasn't like a fire. You know, this wasn't a tornado, this wasn't a flood where you knew the items were gone forever. These things are out there somewhere. And, and at the same time, it doesn't serve me. I recognize that it doesn't serve me to hold onto something that - to hold on to these things, this stuff that really doesn't make me who I am.
LISTENER: You had asked questions about what we're grieving in 2020. For me, it's friendships. Earlier this year, uh, I was on the board of one of our kids' schools and as the pandemic got more serious, I was very concerned that the school was going to proceed with a presentation, inviting numerous family, grandparents, and that just seemed, uh, really inappropriate to me. Um, and when the board refused to even discuss, I, I resigned from the board. So we lost a lot of friendships and relationships there. I find myself really just, uh, struggling with a sense of belonging.
LISTENER: My husband and I were trying to do a round of IVF in April, but our clinic shut down in March. It just felt like this helpless pause, like our time was just slipping away. I’m trying to see our lost cycles as an opportunity for time with each other before having kids, but it’s definitely hard to feel like we were in this groove on a trajectory that has since been derailed. Being an essential worker has really only allowed me to focus on work during the pandemic. I don’t know when I’ll be able to emotionally handle starting treatments again because frankly, I’m just exhausted.
LISTENER: What 2020 has taken from me and my nine-year-old son has been our healing. In October 2018, my husband died by Oxycontin overdose after a long battle with opioid addiction. Towards the end of the year, my son, Peyton, saw this YouTube video of this guy who was fishing with a bow and arrow 'cause he had been fishing with his dad. And he looked at me and he said, "Mommy, do you think that they teach archery somewhere near us?" And, sure enough, they did. So that started weekly trips, 30 minutes to an indoor archery place. And he was having a great time and actually he was really good at it. And, you know, his school picture from that year in third grade is just this beaming smile and his shoulders are square and he's got that chest puffed out and he's just proud. I mean, his dad would just love that picture. And our life was full and we were busy and we really felt like we were growing. And then the pandemic hit. Peyton has asthma. He takes three medications a day. And there was no doubt we were going to have to shelter in place. And so no more archery, no more school. And he is afraid. He is so afraid of going outside, even though we've had the discussions about how you get COVID and how you don't get COVID. He says to me, "Better safer than sorry, mommy." And, uh, so it just feels like our world just came to a screeching halt and it feels like, you know, we've - we've lost so much. We, we lost our new beginning. We lost our healing and we've lost our daddy all over again. And we miss him every day. Always.
That was from a listener in Raleigh, North Carolina.
And one more message to share with you. This one from Fiona Whelan Prine, whose husband, John Prine, the great singer-songwriter, died from COVID-19 on April 7th.
FIONA: I miss him every day. Our boys miss him. I miss the life we shared together. I miss just the small, everyday interactions that we had or those that we didn't have when we would sit in silence and have our coffee and look at the morning news. I miss how he would sometimes get up in the morning, and without sometimes even speaking, he would go and pick up his guitar and start playing. And sometimes it was a new tune, a new melody I may not have heard before. And more times than not, it was a familiar country song, one of the old standards. And then he'd go pour a cup of coffee. I miss those mornings. We will remain grateful that he was with us, that he left us such enormous gifts, but we will also always miss him.
[MUSIC: John Prine: "I Remember Everything"]
That’s John Prine… singing "I Remember Everything." It was the last song he recorded. He wrote it along with songwriter Pat McLaughlin.
Thank you to everyone who shared what 2020 has taken from you.
I’m Anna Sale, and this is Death, Sex & Money, from WNYC.