scrabble board with virus and quarantine spelled out

The internet is full of articles about how people are surviving this COVID-19 pandemic. From “How to Work from Home” to “Best Banana Bread Recipe,” the internet just won’t stop talking about it.

But can you blame anyone? This is new, unchartered territory for those of us that aren’t old enough to have endured the Spanish Influenza pandemic. We’re also accustomed to instant gratification, tons of time socializing, and so many damn activities that make the older generations roll their eyes. We go out to eat way more than our grandparents did, we have a coffee shop on every corner, there is a band in town every weekend, we have “play cafes” for our kids, and we’re always finding new things to keep us busy.

But now, we’ve been without all of that. Our lives as we know it have been flipped upside down, and we’re not used to not doing whatever the hell we feel like when we feel like it.

Not to mention, we’re scared. Sure, some people are very much, “don’t live in fear, sheep!” But they have to be at least a little intimidated by a disease that is so fickle, right? I just can’t imagine that they’re genuinely fearless to an illness that at worst kills you while you’re totally alone in a hospital bed with a tube shoved down your throat. And at best, has no symptoms but is spreading to others unknowingly, possibly killing them.

COVID-19 has stolen a lot from us.

And it’s ok to be mad, sad, anxious, and confused. I know I am. I’m all of these things, sometimes all at once.

COVID-19 has stolen my freedom to go out and enjoy just browsing in a store or wandering aimlessly around a mall when I need a mental break.

COVID-19 has stolen my pampering and beauty splurges—hair appointments, botox, pedicures. Not that I did those as often as some, but it was always a nice treat to myself when I did.

COVID-19 has stolen days spent at a brewery or on a patio with a few drinks while laughing with friends. Something I was longing for after a really tough pregnancy last summer.

COVID-19 has stolen my naive comfort in buying groceries and just putting them straight away into my cupboard.

COVID-19 has stolen birthday celebrations, a proper first Mother’s Day, game nights, date nights, and graduation parties.

COVID-19 has stolen basic outings with our nearly seven-month-old—dinners, the zoo, brunch with friends, playdates. We envisioned ourselves taking him many places with us so that he was accustomed to being out and well-behaved in most situations. Now, who knows what he’ll be like when he gets to be in the real world again.

COVID-19 has stolen our families getting to know our son while he’s still a baby and watching him grow up-close.

COVID-19 has stolen our son’s socialization all-around.

COVID-19 has stolen hugs, cry-laughs, and even real tears while hanging out with friends.

COVID-19 has stolen a chunk of our salaries. And we’re lucky—many have lost their livelihoods altogether.

COVID-19 has stolen our work-life balance, surprisingly. Working from home is usually wonderful, but we’ve both been extra busy during this (somehow) and back-to-back meetings while juggling an infant is hard.

COVID-19 has stolen live music, live comedy, live theatre. I was so looking forward to this since last year was spent too sick to enjoy these things.

COVID-19 has stolen our first family vacation—even if just a short, nearby one.

COVID-19 has stolen festivals, parades, pool days, cookouts, and other fun summer social gatherings.

COVID-19 has stolen our wedding plans. We didn’t have a solid date just yet when this started, but we were narrowing in on one. Now, do we choose one for next spring and hope for the best? We don’t know.

COVID-19 has us worrying about our family and friends—specifically those who are high-risk for one reason or another, essential workers, and our healthcare workers on the frontline.

COVID-19 has stolen our freedom, in a sense. We’ve been humbled in many ways.

And most seriously, COVID-19 has stolen the health and lives of many. Thankfully, nothing extremely close to home for us—and I hope it stays this way. But so many others aren’t as lucky.

But man, have we gained a lot from COVID-19, too.

COVID-19 afforded us more time at home to enjoy our son’s first laugh, witness him sit up on his own, hear him say his first word (“dada,” of course), soak in his endless cuddles, and laugh at his hilarious personality. We wouldn’t have even known we were missing these many special hours with him.

COVID-19 forced me to cook more and to meal-plan ahead of time. This doesn’t always feel like a blessing, but it’s getting back to basics, which is very grounding.

COVID-19 has forced us to find other ways to connect with our loved ones and friends. I hope we never stop making this effort once this is all over.

COVID-19 has encouraged us to get creative. How will we entertain ourselves? How will we try to create a sense of normalcy? Hanging out on our own patio, having backyard “beach” days, virtual happy hours, new puzzles and card games, and watching “rented” movies while eating popcorn. Give us a couple more weeks and we’ll probably have crafted our own drive-in theatre or bought a new firepit to have s’mores. I don’t know, maybe we’ll even blast one of these awesome virtual concerts in our backyard and dance around.

COVID-19 has reminded us that we’re spoiled. Before this, we could run out and grab a coffee, drive 2-minutes to browse the shelves of Target, dine out whenever we were too worn out to cook, and entertain ourselves endlessly with activities.

COVID-19 has afforded us to be spoiled in other ways—breweries are offering local beer delivery, stores are offering curbside pickup or free local delivery, and grocery delivery is our only (personal) means of shopping.

COVID-19 has also shown us how fortunate we are to be able to be spoiled—many are not afforded these luxuries. This has never been more apparent. We always considered ourselves slightly “woke” (as the kids say), but now we’re paying even closer attention. And yeah, we’re going to make more of an effort to give back where we can.

COVID-19 has reminded us to shop and eat local. We make a very conscious effort regularly, but even more so now.

COVID-19 has reminded us how fragile life is and how we should live to the fullest once this is all over. I can’t wait to say “yes” to many more things. Oh, and squeeze our friends and family tight every minute possible.

I encourage you to make these two lists for yourself. Get it all out and write down what you’re missing, what truly sucks, and how you feel vulnerable. Then, think of all the ways this wild ride has given you gifts. It makes it all a bit more tolerable and serves as a nice reminder when you’re feeling down.