By Alecia Reid

CAMDEN, N.J. (CBS) — In the past year, life has certainly changed — from the emergency lockdowns last spring to cautious optimism now. 2020 is a year many of us want to forget existed.

There was so much loss, but we’ve come a long way and now there’s tremendous hope for the future.

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Life, as we now know it, the pandemic forced us to slow down. The beauty we have always known was extinguished.

The sun continues to rise each day. Spring is on the horizon.

It was only a year ago when everything stopped. Our world changed forever.

Loneliness, embracing the good and the bad. Life simply changed.

The time for reflection is coming to an end. The time to atone is here.

As some try to erase the past be mindful of the hurt, the pain, the loss.

Crossing the bridge, getting over that hump.

Vaccines, tens of thousands, are closer and closer, inching to normal.

Streets are bustling, locks have been lifted, and stadiums are now open.

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A new year, new beginnings. Progress is all around us.

Travel accelerating. There are places we need to go, people to see.

Beauty is all around us. Look straight ahead.

We are triumphant. We will get through this. We are getting through this.

The light shines bright — hope, peace, justice, love.

There is light at the end of the tunnel. The future is bright.

What great things will the world hold in the next year? Anything is possible.

The CDC now says it is safe for those who are fully vaccinated to gather indoors without a mask with others who are also fully vaccinated.

Additionally, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced capacity for indoor dining has increased to 50%.

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All a step in the right direction.