A year ago today marks the day the pandemic toppled our lives. In the morning, I saw a message that my employing institution was closed and we were to not come to campus. We spent the day scrambling, setting up impromptu work stations with our laptops we'd been instructed to take home nightly for weeks at that point.
By late in the evening, Jamie had gone to bed and I was left with myself, sorting through the erupting confusion and fear, and then I saw the video of famed cellist Yo-Yo Ma playing the familiar tune by Dvořák. I won't lie - I sat here in this same spot on my sofa watching the recording on this same laptop and I sobbed.
Exhaustion, crippling uncertainty... After a day of scrolling endlessly through stories of what was coming, what we didn't know, and the posts and communications between friends and family offering what we could in support and all feeling the same darkness closing in, Ma reached for kindness - a prescient kindness - with his simple recording.
In a year that has seen horror and cruelty, that seemed to set the world ablaze over again each morning, I'm still stunned by how he seemed to know and know what to do.
"Goin' Home" is a sentimental song even without lyrics - it had some retroactively applied years after the song was originally penned. And even with all of us stuck in our houses, "Goin' Home" - returning to a place of comfort, to a time when we can see our parents without masks, share a meal with friends - is something that made sense then as we peered into the unknown, and all the more a year later.
Today Ma received his vaccine injection, and in the fifteen minute wait/ observation window, he brought out the cello and played some favorites.
At the outset of the pandemic, celebrities tried to read stories or write poems and stay in touch with their audience. Patrick Stewart gamely read Sonnets. Ma partnered with painist Kathryn Stott and put out an album - the proceeds of which will support musicians struggling to make ends meet during the pandemic.