Dear Strangers, Friends, and Family,

I’m glad you are all here as I’d like to take a moment to thank you for helping me through, what I’m gathering through different reports, was a really weird year for everyone.

I’ve spent nearly every day of the last 10 months with my two beautiful children, Henry and Frances. Save for the occasional trip to the grocery store, my interactions with other adults have been minimal. But I tried to make the most out of my short time with them. And now I’d like to say thank you.

I’d first like to thank the lady at Verizon. I did not catch your name, but you were so nice to talk to me, even though there was a line wrapped around the building. I still cannot believe you met your Russian husband at a gym in Metairie, of all places. Thank you for looking at pictures of my children, who are strangers. I do hope you got that coffee mug with your pug’s face on it for Christmas. A “pug mug," you called it — what will they think of next?

To the lady working at Walgreens: thanks for not judging me for the items in my cart. Though the look you gave me from behind the plexiglass, through your glasses said, “someone just got their stimulus check,” I appreciate you supporting my decision to go all out and treat myself to the Handy Grabber Reaching Aid, an Extra Flamey Jar Candle in Agave Mist, neon green tri-fold Poster Board, shark socks that look like a shark is eating my legs, and Chapstick. (Can you believe I just went in for a few bottles of wine and face lotion?)

To Brenda, who sat too close to me at the mammogram office, I hope I didn’t offend you by moving over a seat but come on, Brenda. Thank you for complimenting my hat. You know, it is a great hat. Thanks again. I am sorry about your husband who is missing part of his lung and has lupus. I do hope both of you reconsider getting the vaccine. I think it’s a good idea, especially if you want to meet that new grandbaby who is on the way.

Mr. Jerry Jr., who I met getting my oil changed, thank you for sharing the saddest story I’ve ever heard, even though we’d only known each other for 14 minutes. I’ll never not think of you when I pass a JiffyLube. I will remember your mother, Frances, and father, Jerry Sr., when I pray. (Jerry’s parents left on a cruise on March 5, came back with the virus, and died on April Fool’s Day, holding hands.)

To our neighbor, Cool Guy — thank you for the box of Amtrak flashlights. I’m not sure how a person manages to steal an entire box of Amtrak flashlights, but you really “brightened” up our lockdown. You really are, truly, a cool guy. I’m sorry I still don’t know your real name, but you don’t seem to mind when we shout “Hey, Cool Guy!” when we pass your house.

Thank you to all the Instacart ladies, who delivered my Rouses groceries. I would like to say “no thanks” to the young man who arrived high as Ben Franklin’s kite with a bag full of zucchinis, which are NOT cucumbers. But to all the others — great job. The replacement items were fine, and it was obvious you went out of your way to pick the pretty avocados.

I really love beer and want to acknowledge it. I drank so much of it during the hot part of quarantine. I never really drank beer before the pandemic but enjoyed drinking one at different times of the day. Before lunch, for instance.

Thank you to my husband, who folds towels like hotel housekeeping, makes a steady supply of sourdough bread (which he was doing way before the lockdown, thank you very much), and reads to the children every night before bed. He surprised me with a trip to Paris at the beginning of this year. Little did we know what would happen a mere two weeks after our return. I suppose we really do, “Always have Paris.”

To my children, who I’ve seen a lot of this year. I want to thank them for their dismal sleep schedule because even though it is hard, it is when they are the funniest. They grab every blanket and pillow available and make a mountain and laugh and laugh. Or Henry puts on a tie and talks in an accent and pretends to be someone passing through on a business trip. On other nights, from separate bedrooms, they request bananas. And they stand in the hallway and laugh and eat bananas down to the nub.

Finally, I would be remiss not to thank the virus. Dear virus, though you have killed many, disrupted the world’s economy, canceled Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Mardi Gras, as well as weddings, wakes, funerals, and graduations, you forced us to pause and breathe (lol). We walk more now, well, we did, but now it’s cold and we’ll die if we go inside. We cook, which was fun at the beginning, but I’m sad that no one has invented different things to eat during these last few months. We have evaluated everything, kept what is important, and sloughed the rest. So thank you, coronavirus. I feel like next time, if you are open to constructive criticism, maybe try a gentler approach where you show us how small the world really is, but less aggressively. Might I suggest a new flower that pops up on every single continent overnight? Or eradication of mosquitoes — can’t tell me that’s not a good one. Oh! How about a virus where everyone gets 1% smarter or funnier — you pick. I want to be surprised.

Thanks, everyone. I promise to think of you every time my eye twitches or the pain in my chest returns.