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Searching for the silver lining

In an interview with AARP magazine, Alan Alda said it’s still possible to have a good time in life, even with social distancing and the repercussions of the coronavirus.

He said when he gets together with friends one question he likes to ask: “What’s the best thing that’s happened to you since the pandemic began?”

How would you answer that question?

When I think of my life since COVID-19 reared its monstrous head, what first springs to mind is all that I’m missing.

I miss my old life. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t long for my active, fearless lifestyle of days gone by.

At the same time, I’m a positive person and I work hard to stay grateful for the life I do have.

When I talk with family and friends, we often challenge each other to name something good that has come out of this pandemic for them.

That also seems to be what Alan Alda is asking.

One of the positive things of a slower lifestyle for me is time to reflect and reminisce about friends that over the years have added to my appreciation of life.

There’s an old expression that says:

New friends are silver. Old ones are gold.

Anyone who has been blessed by a long-term friendship knows the truth to that.

Now that life is more leisurely during this pandemic, we have times to do things we never got around to doing as often as we wanted.

Although I always carry my long-term friends in my heart and my mind, I seldom got around to telling them.

Now, I’m making it a goal to reach out to some special friends that graced my life over the years.

I was surprised when I called my cherished friend, Linda. She’s been a rewarding part of my life through years of working together on two newspapers and through our strong social friendship, I’ve always said no matter what the circumstances Linda brings fun and joy.

All the telephone numbers I had for her are no longer valid so I haven’t talked with her for a few years.

Imagine my surprise when she said, “I’m so happy to hear from you. I thought you were mad at me for some reason because you never answered my email.”

It’s true. I didn’t because my email and my address both changed. I never got the old messages.

I bet that’s the case with a few others who claim I never responded to their email.

When I moved I took very little of what was in my old house. Yet, among the things I did take were the treasured gifts Linda painted for me.

When I wanted to express how I felt about my Florida house I asked her to paint “Answered Prayer” on a slate I brought from my old house.

More than a decade later I still feel like my little house is an answered prayer, one for which I am forever grateful.

I am also forever grateful to those who have been there for me through the years.

One important thing I have found during the trying days of social isolation is the importance of a grateful heart.

Sure, like many others, I could draw up a long list of what this frightening pandemic took away from me.

But I realize it’s even more important to focus on what I do have because even the worst days are gifts.

I believe one good things that came from the pandemic is that we no longer take for granted any small pleasure.

I know that I am even more aware of the gift of each day.

This was supposed to be the year of my milestone birthday that my daughters and I were going to celebrate with a special trip. We had great fun narrowing down the possibilities until we realized airline travel was too dangerous.

I had to put on my big girl pants, swallow my disappointment, and say we will do it “someday.” But we know it won’t be anytime soon.

My friend Fran had the exact same thing happen to her. Her adult children were going to fly to Florida to celebrate her big milestone birthday.

Instead, she found herself eating a takeout meal because planes had stopped flying.

“If I start thinking about all the blessings I’ve had in life I realize I can’t feel sad about missing one celebration,” Fran said.

I’ve written before about how much joy I find in small pleasures like the first cup of coffee in the morning or the loving phone calls from my two daughters.

Since social isolation has removed so much from my life, those small pleasures I do have take on even more importance.

I remember to thank my husband and not take for granted that he gets up first in the morning to have coffee waiting for me. Or, that whenever something breaks he’s able to fix it.

Before, I thought about how exciting it would be to fly to Italy with my daughters. Now, I think about how exciting it will be to regain some small pleasures like being able to go to lunch with favorite friends or being able to go to church.

My grateful heart will be even more grateful when simple pleasures are mine again.

Contact Pattie Mihalik at newsgirl@comcast.net.