15 People Share the Silver Linings They Found Amid a Pandemic

This year, many of us have new appreciation for life’s simpler joys. RD readers share their discoveries.

Content at home

I think for so many, the silver lining should be a simple message, that happiness is found at home and from within. I’m thankful for all the traveling my spouse and I got to do in our 45 years together. We saw so many countries and met interesting people. But we never knew the contentment we had right here. Dusting off the Scrabble board we’d bought in ’75 and taking it out on the back screened-in porch was so enjoyable—with the bonus of seeing and hearing all the birds chirping! —Margaret Waggoner Milton, Florida. These uplifting stories of neighbors helping each other during the pandemic will inspire you to do the same.

Pen pals

My daughter told me that people in nursing homes and ­assisted living centers were looking for pen pals to help them combat the loneliness brought on by the ­COVID-19 pandemic. I have always loved to write and receive letters, but a handwritten letter has become a rarity. So I jumped on the opportunity to resurrect this passion of mine. Initially, I sent out three letters to three assisted living facilities in three states. I received one reply from a wonderful man who lives in New Hampshire. So far we have exchanged three letters, and I have made a new friend. —E.S. via rd.com

Saving up

Because of quarantine measures, I no longer run as many errands, and our yearly vacations were canceled. No more pit-stopping at various stores. The result was a bigger wallet and fewer things. I ended up saving (and still am) so much more money because I’m not spending sporadically, and I’m not buying things that we don’t need. If I keep this up, I’ll be able to pay off my car in another year, instead of three. —Angela Eckhart Danielsville, Pennsylvania

A baby and engagement

As the pandemic started out, our family had the same concerns as anyone, but on Easter Sunday our daughter and son-in-law announced they were expecting a baby in December. This is our first grandchild, and we were elated. The next few months, our thoughts turned toward our little hope for the future. Each day seemed brighter! Fast-forward to July 5, when our son announced that he and his girlfriend had just gotten engaged. More hope for the future! My family has truly been blessed. God is present. God is powerful. God is good. Even in a pandemic. —K.G. Branchville, New Jersey. Coronavirus canceled this couple’s wedding until a good samaritan stepped in.

Morning runs

I have rediscovered the love of running outside early in the morning. I had abandoned running outdoors for the convenience and relatively hassle-free experience of running on a machine. Inevitably, the TV was tuned to news channels. Every day, after auto-running my eight miles, I was left hot, sweaty, and a bit stressed out with all of the negativity. With gyms and fitness centers closed, I was forced to start running outdoors very early in the morning. What a delight! I often witness the sun breaking the horizon, wild turkeys sitting high up in a canyon pass, and, best of all, a soothing, almost meditative state of mindfulness as I immerse myself in nature. —Roger Andersen Roseville, California

Time with my daughter

My daughter started kindergarten this fall, but this spring I got to work one-on-one with her on her math, reading, writing, science, and social studies. We also built giant forts, played lots of games, solved many puzzles, and did a host of other things we wouldn’t do on our normal schedule. I felt truly blessed to have been able to spend the time with her. —Erika Ciavattone Chesterfield, Michigan

More video games

Can I be thankful for having more time to play video games? To me, it’s a silver lining. —N.A.via rd.com. Nurses share stories of positive moment behind-the-scenes of COVID-19.

illustration of a female figure sitting beneath the shade of silver lining cloud that's also a treeShout for Reader's Digest

Pages of memories

In the beginning of the ­COVID-19 shutdown, I became so depressed. I missed my activities, family, friends. Turning the television off, I pulled out shoebox upon shoebox and spent hours organizing photos. I reconnected with family members long gone, laughed over fun memories, revisited places traveled, shed tears at the losses, smiled at the blessings. And I created memory albums for each of my six grandchildren, from their birth to the present. With each photo, I could once again hold them in my arms, bake cookies, rejoice in their accomplishments, and feel the warmth of their hugs and kisses. —Carol Murray Lowville, New York

In remission

I’m no longer bald, and by the grace of God, I’m still here! In April 2019, I was diagnosed with cancer after a trip to the ER for extreme swelling and pain in my abdomen. To say I was shocked was an understatement. I was admitted to the hospital and shortly thereafter began chemo treatments for stage 2 diffuse large ­B-cell lymphoma. My husband immediately stocked up on hand sanitizer, gloves, and toilet paper (you have to drink a lot of fluid when you are trying to flush the chemo from your system). Because of my compromised immune system, I also refrained from hugging and kissing friends and family and spent quite a bit of time alone. I finished treatment last August and have been in remission ever since. Little did I know that I was “in training” for COVID-19! —Diana Bosse Loveland, Ohio. Read these happy stories of puppies and kittens fostered during coronavirus.

A new senior pup

My husband and I had talked about getting a dog when we retired and this seemed like the right time. We found a cute seven-pound poodle-terrier mix named Coco at the shelter. The rescue representative kept stressing to me that she was a ten-year-old “senior” dog. My response was, “No problem. We’re seniors too!” Now I have a happy reason to get out of bed every ­morning at 6:30, when I take her for a walk. She is full of energy for a ­senior. She makes us both laugh and has helped us find our smiles. —Anne Chance Venice, Florida

Sewing masks

The local craft store remained open during lockdown, and I was invited to take kits home to make masks for health-care workers. At first, I hesitated, since I don’t own a sewing machine. But that did not stop me. From the middle of April until the middle of July, I made 42 masks, all sewn by hand. What a joy to do my part to support first responders. —Kathleen Zurenko Daytona Beach, Florida

Yard clean up

My yard has never looked any better than it does now. I spend part of the mornings outside every day! —Sharon Devora Pipe Creek, Texas

Neighborhood wave

In most neighborhoods in Silicon Valley, everybody is busy, and our court is no exception. In the 20 years we’ve lived here, we’ve known our neighbors enough to wave as we drive in and out of our garages or walk the dogs. Everybody was friendly, only very busy with work and school. Then the quarantine began, and a few of us decided to meet each after­noon in the middle of the street for the five o’clock wave. Since then, just about everybody on the court comes out every afternoon for casual conversation. Months later, we are no longer just neighbors but friends. We know about the children and how they are handling the loss of school. We know the neighbor who likes to bake bread. We know about the daughter who loves horses and the one who belongs to a cheer team. We have watched the baby grow into a toddler. Best of all, we know we can count on each other in time of need. That is a comfort in this difficult time. —Cathy Kordsmeier Los Altos, California. 

New life in the yard

Because I have been at home 24/7, I watched a pair of barn swallows raise their young on my front porch. Although this may not sound like much, I watched the entire process, from the parents selecting a place to build two side-by-side intricate mud nests (where I could easily see them through my front window), to their laying and hatching the eggs, feeding the young babies, raising them to maturity, and very patiently teaching them to fly on the porch (with the aid of the porch light to land on). I then watched them fly around the yard in a larger area ­every day and return to the nests ­every night to sleep ­together—at least for the first week. The mother and father bird were amazingly attentive parents. These birds have been a highlight of my year. —Wynne Smith Spartanburg, South Carolina

Closer to my husband

My husband has been retired a while, and I retired in October 2018. We love each other, but we are quite independent, with our own interests and schedules, so when the lockdowns began, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The pandemic has been heartbreaking for those who’ve lost loved ones or jobs. But our silver lining is that my husband and I have grown closer than ever through this time of isolation. We encourage each other whenever one of us begins feeling discouraged. We stay engaged with family and friends, whether through digital connections or socially distanced encounters. Our love for each other—our appreciation for each other—has continued to grow during this unusual year, and that’s something for which I am deeply grateful. —Mindi McKenna Kansas City, Missouri. Don’t forget to take a look at these moving photos of kindness in the time of coronavirus.

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