During the last few weeks of the coronavirus pandemic, I have had the opportunity to reflect on my appreciation for relationships. Most of all, I’ve realized the importance of communicating to others and the positive influence loved ones have had on me.
I’m always grateful to the people who have shaped me into who I am today. But I wouldn’t always show it. I would be too nervous to let it out — too timid to tell people what they mean to me.
It shouldn’t have taken a pandemic for me to realize this. It shouldn’t have taken a death total from coronavirus for me to make a change.
But here I am, talking about love.
I’m not talking about marriage love or “Bachelorette” love. I’m speaking of so-called brotherly love. I mean the human connection of friends, family, loved ones and strangers, the feeling that stems from joy and grows from struggle.
I want to break down barriers, call that distant relative, reach out to that lonely friend or help someone up. Life isn’t about keeping emotions bottled up.
These thoughts have been cluttered in my mind for a while now, but I haven’t taken action on them.
I watch my mom every week send a note to her friend Liz in California. It’s always a handwritten letter, not a text, with an address printed on the envelope, including a stamp and return address, too. My generation might still be confused on how that process works.
Liz got married a couple years ago. Less than two years after, her husband passed away. Shortly following that, Liz was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She’s been in and out of chemotherapy. My mom writes her a card every week.
My grandpa’s assisted living facility has been closed to the public. Family won’t be able to visit him for the foreseeable future. He has to settle for calls on his flip phone, but those aren’t the same.
Last weekend, after the virus had altered daily life, my aunt bought him a handheld video screen so he could see people when he talked to them. She worked to set up the software for hours. Now he can see people when he’s isolated from them.
Recently, I’ve tried to take after the people I love by showing more love.
I get daily motivations on my phone. Two weeks ago, I received one that stood out: “Love is letting others know how much you appreciate them.”
I took a screenshot and sent it to a couple of friends.
“I appreciate you,” I typed under it.
One day, over winter break, I was down on myself. I was driving home when someone waved to me. I didn’t know them, and they didn’t know me. But they cared enough to give a smile my way. That made my day better.
So I’ve started to wave to strangers or even ask them how they're doing. Maybe it will make their day.
I’ll take another step now. I might not know you, and you might not know me. But if I could see you right now, I would wave and smile.