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Bill Gates says 2021 was the hardest year of his life

"I can't deny that it's been a year of great personal sadness for me," the Microsoft co-founder says.

Bill Gates has hope that 2022 will be a better year.

If 2021 was tough for you, you're not alone. Microsoft co-founder and billionaire Bill Gates said the current year has been "the most unusual and difficult year" of his life. His divorce from Melinda French Gates, the loneliness of the pandemic, and his transition into empty-nester dad have all affected him, Gates wrote on his GatesNotes blog on Tuesday.  

"Even though I think the things I've been working on are by far the most interesting part of my year, I know a lot of people are curious about a subject closer to home: my divorce," Gates wrote. "Melinda and I continue to run our foundation together and have found a good new working rhythm, but I can't deny that it's been a year of great personal sadness for me."

The Gates' divorce became final in August after the couple announced in May that they were splitting after 27 years of marriage. After the announcement, The Wall Street Journal reported that Bill Gates had an inappropriate relationship with a Microsoft employee while still married, leading him to step down from the company's board.

Gates' daughter, Jennifer, a medical student, got married in an elaborate celebration in New York in October. His other two children, Phoebe and Rory, are away at college, leaving Gates an empty nester.

"I miss having them at home, even if it is easier to focus on reading a book or getting work done these days," Gates wrote.

Gates also said the COVID-19 pandemic meant he, like most people, faced long stretches of time without face-to-face social interaction. 

"It's been a strange and disorienting experience," Gates wrote. "My personal world has never felt smaller than it did over the last 12  months."

Gates says he had hoped 2021 would be better than it turned out to be, but that he didn't foresee the COVID-19 delta variant or how many people would refuse to get vaccinated or wear masks. And even with the omicron variant, he has hope for 2022 and beyond.

"In a couple years," he wrote, "my hope is that the only time you will really have to think about the virus is when you get your joint COVID and flu vaccine every fall."