2020

Unlike most people, 2020 was a good year for our family in many ways. My long-in-the-making book, “Fix What You Can: Schizophrenia and a Lawmaker’s Fight for Her Son,” was released. Son Jim stayed sober the entire year for the first time in a long while. He yearned to go to work more than he could, instead of avoiding it.

This summer, Jim uncharacteristically agreed to accompany Roger and me and his sister Angela and niece Taylor on a vacation. We drove to northern Minnesota where we socially distanced at an Airbnb house located on a lake. We watched “Hamilton,” played board games, read, cooked, walked, swam and savored hearing loons and watching lake life. The low-stress activities with fewer people allowed Jim to escape his usual social anxiety.

I have to admit this was a rotten year for book releases, but there were some advantages. It wasn’t nearly as much fun having virtual launch events compared to in person. I love universities, libraries, bookstores and civic organizations—places where events would have taken place. Media attention was sucked away by the Presidential election and the tragic murders of George Floyd and others. Nonetheless, the literary world quickly transitioned to virtual, and new opportunities surfaced. My pre-launch event was hosted by the National Press Club Journalism Institute in Washington, D.C., and groups that invited me to speak included those in other states. I could participate easily from my own living room.

As I look forward to 2021, I hope for vaccines to stop the millions of deaths. I will be happy when we don’t have to wear masks and when we can hug family and friends. I miss talking leisurely and being served while dining out. At the same time, I will always look back on 2020 with mixed feelings. My book was finally published, enabling me to speak out more about improving the mental health system. And 2020 was the year when the world slowed down and helped us get our son back, cause for jubilant celebration this New Year’s Eve.