Two Years Like No Other
On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, a pandemic. Since then, the world has undergone seismic shifts — impacting industries like travel, health care, education and food and everyone from parents, college students, nurses and doctors, restaurant workers and more. More than 6 million people have died of COVID-19 worldwide as of March 7.
Yet the pandemic will be remembered differently by individuals, whose experiences may be colored by job fatigue, the loss of loved ones, increased family time, work-from-home freedom or a newfound sense of purpose. As we enter the third year of life with COVID-19, we asked the TODAY community and viewers to share one photo of theirs that will forever define the pandemic for them.
The TODAY co-anchor shared this image of her working from her basement during the beginning of the pandemic.
"This video says it all."
"If ever there was a time that we could broadcast from home, this is it. Technology and the moment were at a perfect intersection. We were so fortunate that we could work from home without missing a beat. So many either couldn’t or they didn’t have the luxury of staying home, and that was never far from our minds."
Jenna Bush Hager
The TODAY co-host shared an image of a family dance party from early in the pandemic.
"I was visiting my mom for Mother's Day in 2020 and was driving around her neighborhood and saw a group of kids skateboarding this ramp. So I jumped out of the car and just started skating with them."
"Easter 2020. This was the first pandemic holiday and it’s when we realized the whole world has changed. There would be no big family gathering, no church, no dressing up (although I guess we could have but the pandemic also ushered in years of sweatpants.) We brought the kids down to surprise my dad, we had masks and gloves on, we stayed at the end of their driveway with a Happy Easter sign and waved. This is as close as we got to my dad that year. It broke my heart but at the same time showed how resilient kids are. Calvin saw this as an adventure…he loved the road trip and holding up the sign. We’re hoping we can have a normal Easter this year…finally."
"This is the moment I crossed the finish line of the 2021 NYC Marathon. I wasn't a runner until I started training in 2020 as a new challenge during Covid. The challenge became a mission to raise as much money as possible for Parkinson's Disease research at the Michael J. Fox Foundation. In the end, we raised more than $500,000. Mission accomplished."
"This photo from our micro-wedding in September 2020 will always define the pandemic for us. When we got engaged in 2019 and started planning our wedding, we couldn’t have imagined wearing masks at our wedding! We also have many beautiful mask-less photos from the day, but this photo will always remind us of what is important — that despite not having the big wedding we planned, we still were able to get married and share the day with each other, and a few of our closest loved ones."
"May 10, 2020. My mom just wanted a hug from her girls for Mothers Day. We were trying to be as careful as possible."
"This photo sums up March 2020…when childcare shut down and working parents were forced to balance parenting and working while never leaving the house."
Havre de Grace, Maryland
"Through the mess of the year, I hadn’t cancelled our Thanksgiving vacation—we typically go somewhere the week before to avoid congested airports. … It was very weird/eerie feeling to be on an international flight by ourselves. … I recognize the loss so many have had to endure during the pandemic. A spontaneous trip to the Bahamas in November 2020 may appear reckless but to be honest, it felt safer than heading to Florida, for example. We spent four days together staring at the ocean, building sandcastles, breathing in new air, and letting go of some of the stress."
"I found out I was pregnant right before covid hit the US. The first year was so terrifying, especially being pregnant. All through my pregnancy I worried what kind of world I was bringing my son into, if we would even survive if we got it. The moment he was in my arms I knew he was special. I knew he would bring immense joy to our family at a time when we’d known nothing but heartache for far too long. He was a bright light in a world shrouded in darkness. He was our little fire right when we were in our darkest moments. Today he continues to spread his light and warmth to all who encounter him."
"This is how my grandson had to say good-bye to his ‘pappy’, who had Dementia and passed away 8 days after this was taken. No hugs, kisses or contact! So sad, he is 6 years - 11 months (in this picture) and DOESN'T understand why he couldn't kiss or hug pappy! … This is forever etched in our minds and the grandson still to this day, has his periods of tears and regrets (questions why he couldn't hold, hug or kiss pappy). COVID really put a damper or our lives not being able to be there for my father, as he slowly passed away."
West Des Moines, Iowa
"This was the night our hospital called to ask me to come down in Aug 2020, my husband had a major stroke 10 days prior and from the time he was rolled into the ambulance I could not see him or talk to him. 2 weeks later getting that phone call request to come spend his remaining time with him, nurses felt he would heal quicker or pass happier. He was mostly comatose; I crawled into bed with him, he turned his head to me and patted my back, held me all night. I am eternally grateful for that phone call. … That was a month that woke me up, to the disaster this pandemic was; my partner of 51 years may be leaving me. Not if I could help him."
Saint Charles, Missouri
"This photo was taken on September 27, 2020, just after I told my parents that they would finally be grandparents. It is the last photo I ever took with my dad. In that joyous moment, when my dad cried happy tears at the news, none of us could have imagined that just 2 short months later he would contract Covid-19, and a month after that he would be gone forever. … For us and millions of others, this pandemic resulted in the ultimate loss. There was no 'appreciating a slower life,' 'spending more time with family,' 're-evaluating how to spend time.' It is the worst thing I have experienced in my lifetime, and resulted in an experience I did not want to endure until much later than the age of 34- saying goodbye to my dad."
Eagle River, Arkansas
"Easter Sunday, April 2020, San Antonio, TX. My heart was broken over the state of the world at that time, with the reports coming in of mass deaths and the gripping fear that permeated everything. I was unable to attend service for the first time in my life. Churches were literally closed. Seeing a 'craft' via Facebook, mimicking stained glass on a window, we decided to try it ourselves. It turned out rather beautiful, and added a sense of peace and sanctuary to our home on that Easter Sunday."
Farmington, New York
"This photo was taken March 11, 2020 while visiting my parents in Florida. Everything was starting to shut down around us and school events were starting to be cancelled and my husband and I were trying to figure out the safest way to get back to upstate NY - was it safe to be in a busy airport or on an airplane? Do we rent a car and drive home? This photo shows my then kindergartner blissfully unaware of the chaos unfolding around her. I love this photo because it’s just her loving life but it breaks my heart because I feel like some of the carefree feelings of childhood were taken away from her and her older sister."
"Some things were good during Covid times! In the Peak of covid pandemic on a super busy day (which one?) we had a moment to do 'prone dancing' in the ICU and actually laughed. The picture has a military relief nurse, a traveler and a seasonal nurse in it. I made a lot of new friends that are still my life long friends to this day!! Amist all the emotions, stress, fear, sadness, frustration and exhaustion we made time to laugh."
"Times Square, NYC at 3:58 PM on April 22 2021. A whole year after the pandemic started and the streets were still empty. It was a strange time to take a vacation, but I missed Manhattan and prices were low. Store owners thanked me for coming to NYC. It seemed surreal."
Stevenson Ranch, California
"Trying to explain to my 4 year old granddaughter why we could not have a real hug but that her gramma loves her and will give her a big hug 'soon'. My heart was breaking at that time as she didn’t understand why gramma couldn’t give her gramma kisses and hugs. We are all vaccinated now and we hug as much as we can!"
"Visits with Santa changed during the pandemic. My grandson, Nash visiting Santa."
"This photo of my sweet grand daughter, Annie, will forever define our children’s resiliency during our worldwide pandemic."
"My husband and I celebrated our granddaughter’s first birthday on 4/22/20 through a glass storm door. Our daughter is a doctor at a children’s hospital and our son-in-law is a firefighter/paramedic. Their jobs do not have a ‘work from home’ option, so having in person contact was not happening. At the time, we wanted so very much to hold, hug and kiss her, but were grateful to live close and just see her through the glass."
"This was the last picture I took before I gave birth in November of 2020. I found out I was pregnant March 8, 2020 just days before the world shut down. In no way did I expect that I would go to every doctor appointment alone and give birth wearing a mask. I spent the entire pregnancy at home and wasn’t able to celebrate with anyone or have my husband at any doctor visit. When I went to give birth, he was able to join me and hear her heartbeat for the first time. … I’ll never think about Covid without thinking about my pregnancy and how much our lives changed both personally and globally."
Hot Springs, Arkansas
"My grandmother's burial in December 2020 can be broken down into numbers: 101 years, 1 husband (deceased), 3 sons, 1 daughter, 3 daughters in law, 1 son in law, 8 grandchildren, 8 grandchildren in law, 13 great grandchildren and, because of Covid, those in attendance were 2 sons, 1 daughter in law and 1 grandchild."
"My Christmas dinner table set for one. Separated from my family and feeling so very isolated. Living alone during the pandemic was tough."
"Frustration: I took this picture after I had been wearing an N95 mask for 12 hours, being an ICU nurse to Covid patients who don’t believe in vaccines or masks."
San Antonio, Texas
"I wore a different hat for every ZOOM meeting I had. It kept me sane and brought back fond memories of my grandmother and mother, due to the fact that most of the hats were theirs. Also, everyone that attended a meeting looked forward to the next meeting to see what I would be wearing. It made my best Christmas card ever!"
"I was graduating without a job into a pandemic and global recession, feeling helpless. When this picture was taken, I was desperately trying to be proud of my accomplishments and relish the moment. However, a little voice in my head kept saying 'This isn’t how it should be.'"
"This is a series of goofy screen grabs from my virtual teaching sessions during the 2020-2021 school year. It perfectly captures how incredibly awkward it was teaching to a screen, even for this veteran teacher."