After only two days, I received a call from the Waukegan Testing Center to learn I was negative for COVID-19. And then, like clockwork, my mom received the same call only minutes later with similar results. While I could write an entire article about the amazing service I experienced at the Waukegan COVID Testing Center (it’s a free service!), I won’t. Instead, I’ll write about some of my thoughts during those two days. Hopefully, it might bring some peace of mind to anyone who’s waiting for their own test results.
In general, I’ve been finding a lot of comfort in the little things: Sunday’s thunderstorm, Facetiming friends, or watching my rose bushes bloom. But it can be hard to see the beauty in these things during times of stress or anxiety, particularly when it comes to our health or the ones that we love. So as I perused the charts for COVID mortality and infection rates, I tried to take that appreciation for life’s little blessings down to a deeper, more basic level.
I started out with my breathing. I watched my chest rise as my lungs inflated with air and smiled at its fall as I exhaled. It’s a blessing that my lungs both work, that my oxygen flows in and out without the aid of a tube or respirator. As my heart started to slow its rapid thumping, I realized what a blessing it was that it continued to beat at all. Without medication, without the use of a pacemaker, my heart continues to pump oxygen-rich blood throughout my body. Each of my organs manage to fulfill their vital functions without any conscious effort on my part at all.
It’s a beautiful thing to realize that our bodies work to keep us alive, taking the brunt of ensuring our “existence” so that we can instead choose to live. Then I focused my attention a little higher. The legs on which I constantly rely continue to work, carting me from work to home, carrying the weight of my body as I climb to the summit of mountains or take another lap around the block. My hands are nimble and whole, unhindered by joint pain as I sit down to write at my computer. And my mind, which I often see as my greatest enemy, is the same one that sees and remembers the countless moments of beauty I experience every day. It is the same one, despite its flaws and shortcomings, that allows me to look at the faces of the ones I love and remember who they are.
These little blessings may seem obvious to some or unimportant to others. But in those moments of recognition, I remind myself how truly blessed I am; there are others whose lungs do not work like mine, whose legs have not or no longer work, or whose minds are in constant duress at the struggle of making their heart take that next, or possibly final, beat. The cliche saying “Life is short” is cliche for a reason. It is a lesson life is constantly trying to teach us and one, I am ashamed to admit, that I often forget in the depths of depression or the heights of joy. But it is true: life is short. So if you’re having a bad day, remember that your body is working hard to survive so that your mind can make the most of tomorrow. In the meantime, all we can do is try our best to live.
As always, stay safe and hopeful!