I have found it increasingly difficult to write as 2020 smoldered to its inevitable end and 2021 began with little regard for all the hope we had pinned upon its arrival.
My confidence that things – I mean everything … or at least something – would actually change and improve began to wane under the constant barrage of reality. The holidays offered a brief reprieve, but the former Mid went back to nuclear training, the Mid Sib returned to Colorado, and the Dark Ages descended.
With Groundhog Day’s arrival, it’s become clear. The loop is unbreakable. I’ve read where the original script indicated that Bill Murray’s character relived the same day for the equivalent of 10,000 years. I’m becoming convinced that we are stuck in the same sort of loop.
Last year’s Dark Ages were brutal, and not in the typical “the Mids are sad because the days are short and blah, blah, blah.” No, they began in the wake of the Pensacola shootings, where we lost recent USNA grad Joshua Kaleb Watson followed in painful succession by the deaths of Duke Carrillo and David Forney. It was under the weight of all that gloom that the COVID-19 pandemic erupted and obliterated every hope for something positive to come out of the first half of 2020.
Things never seemed to turn around. Induction Day and Plebe Summer were changed in ways that made them unrecognizable to those who have gone through it all before. The football season … forget it, let’s not even talk about that. And now, here we are in 2021, mourning the loss of yet another Midshipman when John Johnson passed away on leave.
The Naval Academy family remains tight and supportive through it all and we just recently lost one of our own. 2020 Mid Mom Teri Weber passed away (and today would be her birthday), as did 2020 Mid Dad Brad Wargo. Another Mid Mom I hold dear saw her home decimated by Mother Nature.
I find myself repeating a quote Hunter S. Thompson used so often – “How long, o Lord? How long?”
As a licensed optimist, though, I continue to look for something positive and I’m currently pinning my hopes on two things. The first is ship selection for the Class of 2021 SWOs. I love watching the game show-style event and the excitement it creates.
The second is the news that Susan Weisberg released the second installment of the Chester Midshipmouse series, “The Second Third.” Her first book (simply titled “Chester Midshipmouse“) stunned me with its ability to provide a true-to-life account of Plebe Summer through the eyes of a simple mouse. I have taken solace in that book more than once over the past year and know that this second installment will provide at least a brief respite from the reality of 2021.
That is, until the tide turns and we can once again experience fair winds and following seas.