I stood before my mirror and repeated these words, each time with a different facial expression, before putting them down on paper. Just wanted to get myself in the proper mode, you know.
The idea came to me on a Wednesday night in mid-December while, for five hours, I tossed from my left to my right side and then back again waiting for the last little sheep to jump over the fence and, hence, deliver peaceful sleep. I knew what was causing this unusually serious bout of insomnia… steroids. That morning I awoke with a burning, itchy right eye, throbbing right temple, right nostril releasing a steady drip (too much information?) and a scratchy throat, also only on the right side.
Knowing full well these were all familiar symptoms of sinus congestion and/or allergy, I rushed into a state of panic. THE COVID VIRUS! What should I do first? For once in my life, I acted prudently without wasting time in argument with myself and immediately drove to the doctor’s office. It was also the nearest testing site. Do you know how LONG those nasal swabs are? I did not realize there was that much length behind my inflamed nasal passage. Anyway, the news was good. Test was negative. I only needed to be heavily dosed with steroids—a shot in the posterior plus ten days of pills. To those who actually know me—can you imagine an already-frenetic-Brenda on that many steroids? It wasn’t a pretty sight.
PLUS they are known to disrupt sleep patterns. I did attempt to make good use of that particular night’s wakefulness in order to contemplate all the better things that have affected my life during this strangest of years. All the clever adjectives have been used already so I will just label 2020 as strange. I think I would like to combine Thanksgiving and New Years to express my feelings below. I am grateful for 2020’s many surprisingly pleasant events while I eagerly await all that 2021 has to offer during this new calendar year.
Looking back on 2020, I have come to realize how the adversity often brought out the best in us as human beings. Great neighbors, for example. People who do not live alone may sometimes fail to appreciate their worth. How comforting mine have been, always protective and caring. “Do you need anything? Just let us know.” And they MEAN it.
Perhaps because of the masks, I have begun studying and appreciating people’s eyes. I love to see a stranger smile with his eyes while saying “Hello” though the rest of his face is hidden. I have also found people to be more patient, more helpful and more pleasant toward other co-sufferers they meet. It is as if we are all saying to one another, “I understand.”
Have you noticed the increase in phone calls you have received since last March? Due to physical isolation, I have heard from more family members, church friends (some of whom I barely knew), old friends from far away and others who I assumed had lost my phone number. What about hand written notes and letters arriving through the mail? These are both uplifting ways to “reach out and touch someone” and they do not have to be purchased at the Hallmark store.
I brag on my sweet students often, but in 2020 they have been particularly attentive to an old teacher-friend from years ago. Also, I have heard from more of you readers than in prior years. Probably, 90% of you have never crossed my path, yet we have come to “know” each other through newspaper editions. Please know how very much I appreciate you and your friendship via the internet.
New friends… I have known Patricia, a neighbor, since 2013 as a ‘casual’ friend. We saw each other maybe four or five times a year at our Cove Luncheons. These ended three years ago due to illnesses, ladies moving and other changing conditions. At first, Patricia and I re-connected by phone calls. We share many interests and circumstances. But, especially during isolation, the two of us have really bonded. Both having been careful, we meet regularly for “movie” afternoons in our respective homes or chats in one of the Village parks. Also, lately, a faithful reader from far away has become a special friend. What a treat this has been! Might these relationships have come to be without the “Pandemic Experience?” Perhaps. But I prefer to call them a “God thing” and I am grateful.
Now, I hope it isn’t an aggravating bout of insomnia that grants you opportunity for contemplation while staring at a dark ceiling. But I do hope you will reflect on the many blessings that have emerged through the ‘black cloud’ of COVID-19. Just pause a minute where you are now. Remember those certain good moments? 2020 was not all bad.
Please note e-mail change below.
Brenda Miles is an award-winning columnist and author living in Hot Springs Village. She responds to comments at [email protected]