Line in the Sand

It might have come from a 1950 Washington Post article. Or from an incident that happened during the battle at the Alamo. Or from a loosely interpreted Bible story. Opinions vary, but the moment that the term, “line in the sand,” was born isn’t really relevant here. What is relevant is its exquisite importance at this moment in time.

We have all breathlessly waited for the end of a difficult trial. For me it was cancer treatment. Afterward, I met an amazing sister survivor called Joanna Montgomery who was also a writer. In an off handed way, one day, she told me that cancer drew a line in the sand of our lives. There was life before those dreaded words, and life (which we hoped would be very long) afterward. Joanna’s days after her first treatment weren’t nearly as many as we all hoped. But her use of the phrase has never left my mind. 

So here we are at a new “line in the sand” of our lives. For nearly everyone on earth, this year was so astonishing, we will speak of it as a defining moment for decades. “When did you get that car?” “Oh, I bought it during COVID.” “What is your favorite birthday memory?” “It was the year just before COVID.” “When did you change your hairstyle?” “Right after COVID started.”

When we awake tomorrow morning, COVID will still exist. That will not change with the stroke of midnight and the dawn of 2021. What I hope, what I fervently pray, will have changed is us.

I want the COVID line in the sand to have made us more grateful for what we have, because some of us have gone without. I want it to have made us appreciate the limited time we have together, because some of us have said goodbye to loved ones.

I want it to have made me – and you – a better person. Because being better people is one of the few things we have control over. 

It is time for us to begin anew, on the other side of the line in the sand, kinder and wiser people. Happy New Year!

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