It was when Meghan was sitting in the hospital with her husband, Prince Harry, watching his "heart break as he tried to hold the shattered pieces of mine," that she "realized that the only way to begin to heal is to first ask, 'Are you OK?'"
That question was posed to her by journalist Tom Bradby during the documentary, Harry & Meghan: An African Journey, that aired in October 2019.
"I recalled a moment last year when Harry and I were finishing up a long tour in South Africa. I was exhausted. I was breastfeeding our infant son, and I was trying to keep a brave face in the very public eye," Meghan writes. "'Are you OK?' a journalist asked me. I answered him honestly, not knowing that what I said would resonate with so many -- new moms and older ones, and anyone who had, in their own way, been silently suffering."
"My off-the-cuff reply seemed to give people permission to speak their truth. But it wasn’t responding honestly that helped me most, it was the question itself," she continues. "'Thank you for asking,' I said. 'Not many people have asked if I’m OK.'"
ITV's @tombradby spoke to Meghan as he gained exclusive access to the royal couple as they toured Africa for 10 days with their son Archie.
Amid heartbreak, COVID-19, the Black Lives Matter movement, and political strife, Meghan writes that "this year has brought so many of us to our breaking points."
"Loss and pain have plagued every one of us in 2020, in moments both fraught and debilitating," she writes. "We’ve heard all the stories: A woman starts her day, as normal as any other, but then receives a call that she’s lost her elderly mother to Covid-19. A man wakes feeling fine, maybe a little sluggish, but nothing out of the ordinary. He tests positive for the coronavirus and within weeks, he -- like hundreds of thousands of others -- has died."
Meghan also addresses the deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, who were killed by police officers, and whose deaths spurred Black Lives Matter protests across the country.
"A young woman named Breonna Taylor goes to sleep, just as she’s done every night before, but she doesn’t live to see the morning because a police raid turns horribly wrong," she continues. "George Floyd leaves a convenience store, not realizing he will take his last breath under the weight of someone’s knee, and in his final moments, calls out for his mom."
On top of peaceful protests turning violent, sickness looming large and division plaguing the U.S., Meghan notes that many Americans "no longer agree on what is true."
"We aren’t just fighting over our opinions of facts; we are polarized over whether the fact is, in fact, a fact. We are at odds over whether science is real. We are at odds over whether an election has been won or lost. We are at odds over the value of compromise," she writes. "That polarization, coupled with the social isolation required to fight this pandemic, has left us feeling more alone than ever."
That loneliness has been increased for Meghan, as a result of staying in isolation, "grieving the loss of a child [and] the loss of my country’s shared belief in what’s true."
At a time when people need the support of others, Meghan writes, "moments sad, scary or sacrosanct are all lived out alone" and "there is no one stopping to ask, 'Are you OK?'"
Ahead of Thanksgiving, which is coming at a time when "many of us separated from our loved ones, alone, sick, scared, divided and perhaps struggling to find something, anything, to be grateful for," Meghan encourages people to simply ask their loved ones, "Are you OK?"
"As much as we may disagree, as physically distanced as we may be, the truth is that we are more connected than ever because of all we have individually and collectively endured this year," she writes. "We are adjusting to a new normal where faces are concealed by masks, but it’s forcing us to look into one another’s eyes -- sometimes filled with warmth, other times with tears. For the first time, in a long time, as human beings, we are really seeing one another."