Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Reflecting on 2021 December 31, 2021

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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This quarter-sized token, gifted to me by my friend Beth Ann, lies on my computer desk. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted file photo)

AS 2021 DRAWS to a close, thoughts naturally turn reflective as I look at the year behind and, tomorrow, to the beginning of a new year. Never did I think we would still be in this pandemic, entering year three.

For me, 2021 brought grief, hope, frustration and many other emotions. Grief at the death of my father-in-law (not from COVID) in February. Hope in the availability of COVID vaccines to protect us from severe illness and death. Frustration over the ongoing resistance to those life-saving vaccines. Frustration in the failure of too many to follow simple measures, like masking in public, to prevent the spread of the virus.


I want to focus on the word “hope,” which surged within me when I received an email from my clinic that I could schedule an appointment to get the vaccine. I fit the high risk category. I’ve never determined exactly why, but I speculate due to a severe case of whooping cough 16 years ago which left me coughing uncontrollably, gasping for air and, eventually, using an inhaler and on Prednisone. I was sick for three months then. So when I got my COVID vaccine on March 14, I felt such joy, gratitude and hope. I felt the same following my second dose a month later and then after my booster in October.

Spring brought such hopefulness. I remember thinking this would be the summer of reclaiming my life as I once lived it. That proved short-lived as COVID cases surged once again. Yet, there were moments of normalcy pre-surge—attending outdoor events, dining out a few times, even attending church twice (until masking became optional, not required). The brief spring/early summer respite lifted my spirits. But now here we are, back to an out-of-control situation.


Despite how the pandemic has affected my life in negative ways, I have many reasons to feel grateful. Twice this year, my family circle has been together. All of us. Nothing surpasses the happiness of family togetherness. My grandchildren, especially, bring me such joy with their hugs, kisses, cuddles. I feel fortunate that they live only a half hour distant.

And several times this year I’ve been allowed to visit my mom in her long-term care center, most recently right before Christmas. Mom is in hospice. It’s not been easy. But I try to focus on the blessing of having her here on this earth for 89 years. Not everyone has their mother around for that long. My mother-in-law died at age 59, only months before the birth of my son.


Time at a family lake cabin in central Minnesota also provided a break from everything. Thrice Randy and I headed north for some R & R. Our eldest daughter and her family joined us twice. Lots of time immersed in nature calmed, recharged, brought peace. Many country drives and hikes in parks produced similar feelings.

Now, as 2022 begins, I expect much the same as 2021. I wish I could feel more optimistic. But I just don’t. Not today. Yet, hope remains.


TELL ME: How was your 2021? What proved challenging? What brought you joy?


NOTE: If you are anti-vaccine, anti-mask, anti-science, anti-health, please don’t comment. I moderate all comments and will not publish those “anti” views and/or misinformation on this, my personal blog.

© Copyright 2021 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


8 Responses to “Reflecting on 2021”

  1. beth Says:

    I am heading into 2022 with hope and a positive attitude, in spite of all of the challenges of the past year.

  2. Bring it on 2022!!! Hope and resistance should be the take always from this past year. Opportunity and unity could be our 2022 goals. Happy New Year to you and your entire family, may it be filled with joy.

  3. Happy New Year Audrey! I’m lookiing forward to another year of joy, happiness and good health. I wish the same for you my friend.

  4. Happy 2022 🙂 You know me I really try to stay on the sunny side if I can. Hope certainly comes to mind in summing up 2021 as well as knowing that life is short and to live it. We had four deaths in the family (one related to covid) and the three others that have passed are no longer suffering. I do not work on the clinical side of a health care organization and truly am grateful for all the clinicians during this pandemic. Working on the corporate side has had it challenges at times too and I have had to calm down the busyness by taking time away to reset and recharge. Here’s to hope, health and happiness. Here’s to wealth, wellness and opening every day like a precious gift. Take Care ((((((loveandhugs)))))

    • Renee, that’s one of the aspects I most appreciate about you– your positivity.

      I’m sorry for the loss of four family members in a single year. That’s a lot of grief. I do understand, though, the “no longer suffering.”

      Thank you for expressing your appreciation here to those on the frontlines of healthcare during this pandemic. I cannot even begin to imagine the overwhelming stress they feel as COVID patients continue to fill hospital ICUs, especially. Thank you for doing your part on the corporate side. You’re part of the team and your work is important. I’m thankful you can take time away to reset and recharge. Do take care.

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