By Sean O’Leary, Vice President, Susan Davis International

Today is St. Patrick’s Day. It’s usually a day for celebration. It still is. But it’s also become a day of reflection.

On St Patrick’s Day 2020, we gathered for lunch at the SDI offices one last time before heading off to work from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was the last time we’d all be together in that office for a very, very long time. Of course, we didn’t know that as we ate lunch.

Instead, we made friendly wagers on how long we’d be working from home. Some guessed a few weeks. I guessed through Memorial Day. Others said until the summer. None of us, though, knew the journey that awaited us.

Today is St Patrick’s Day 2022. We are prepared to enter year three of the COVID-19 pandemic, which God willing, will formally transition into an endemic this year.

Certainly, life is a lot better than it was back then. But things remain different, for all of us. There have been a million Americans who have lost their lives due to COVID-19. All of us know someone who has been affected by the virus. My grandfather spent a week in the hospital last fall with the virus. He thankfully recovered, but others haven’t been so lucky.

I always think back to that St. Patrick’s Day lunch because it feels like the very last time life was truly normal, in the pre-pandemic sense of the word. There was less grey in my beard – where did that come from? I was a few pounds lighter – where did those come from?

The good news is that spring is on the way. With it brings that same optimism that arrives every year when the weather warms, the flower blooms, and, on a day like today, the beer flows. It’s hard not to be in a good mood in mid-March, as we shake off the rust of winter and prepare to enjoy sunshine, green grass, outdoor barbeques, and rounds of golf again.

A year ago, on St. Patrick’s Day 2021, the SDI team gathered outside to celebrate the holiday. It was another St. Patrick’s Day I’ll never forget, not for a good or bad reason, just a hilariously stupid one.

SDI St. Patrick's Day

Despite my last name, I actually forgot to wear green. I only realized it as I was almost there, giving me no time to rectify my mistake. Instead, I bore the brunt of my colleagues giving me a hard time. I deserved it. I’ll blame my mistake on the pandemic ruining my sense of time. It did feel like things were beginning to get back to normal, or at least what that “new normal” would be in the wake of COVID-19.

The rest of 2021 was a blur, in both good and bad ways. We returned to the office for several days a week, and even hosted big events again, including the 10th anniversary of the MLK Memorial that featured President Joe Biden.

Unfortunately, the year ended on a down note, as the omicron variant swept through Washington, D.C. It arrived like an unwanted houseguest who refused to leave and kept us from the office to start 2022.

Much like in 2020 when the initial wave hit as I was in an airport in Boston during a business trip, I was in an airport during a business trip. This time, I was in Milwaukee in mid-December after staffing a client’s big media event as the omicron variant took off.

It’s never fun to read about a wildly contagious virus while eating in an airport restaurant. Maybe I should stop taking business trips?

Today is better. If I’ve learned one thing from the pandemic, it’s that you have to focus on the here and now. Enjoy what you can enjoy when you can enjoy it.

I don’t know what life will be like in three months, six months, or on St. Patrick’s Day 2023. All I know is that life today is better than it was two years ago. I’m optimistic by nature, so today is day for my hopeful side to emerge. No, I haven’t started drinking yet.

As a sports fan, another big moment is taking place across the country. March Madness officially begins. Arenas will be full. Bars will be packed. Office workers will pretend to work. It’s a sign that normalcy, or what we can expect of it, has returned.

I’ll be with my co-workers in the office today, and I’ll be wearing green. I’ll be with my friends later, watching basketball and yelling at referees. Yes, this feel good.

I’ll never forget St. Patrick’s Day 2020. I’m much happier it’s St. Patrick’s Day 2022.

May the saddest day of your future be no worse than the happiest day of your past.