It hit me this week that I've started thinking about life in terms of "in the before" and "in the after," with the arrival of COVID-19 as the turning point.

I was watching an episode of "Grey's Anatomy" the other day when one of the doctors was stressing out because she had to tell a patient he had cancer. She said the patient was living in the "before-time," where he thought everything was fine, and the doctors were in the "after-time," because they knew that after they told him the news, his life would never be the same. It really struck a chord with me as being appropriate to our current situation.

So, I started thinking about what was going on in my life "in the before." Jim and I had been planning a trip to New Jersey to visit his dad and brother. We decided to skip the trip and bring a new dog into our home, so we traveled to a stranger's house in Skowhegan and chose Toby as our own. We went to dinner at least once a week. I complained about having to stop by the grocery store almost every day after work, because I saw it as an inconvenience.

Fast forward to life "in the after."

We're not traveling to other cities unless absolutely necessary and we're certainly not going to take any extended trips to other states. "Going to dinner" means ordering by phone or online and having the food delivered curbside or to your house. And the complaint now about grocery shopping is not that it's inconvenient, but that we can't find the things we need because someone has been buying up all the toilet paper and cleaning products.

So many things I took for granted, ''in the before."

Now, all I want is to gather with my family, spend time with good friends, and go to the gym. Still, there are blessings for many of us, if we look for them. We have technology that allows us to work from home, stay in contact with loved ones even if we can't see them in person, and get advice from doctors without having to leave the house.

Maine is a wonderful place where people still smile and work together to help others. I can't imagine passing this time of self-quarantine in a city, where I can't find green space to go for a walk or listen to the birds.

But I resolve, when things quiet down and the virus "in the after" has been brought under control, to remember how much I took those simple things for granted. I promise to appreciate the convenience of stocked grocery store shelves, the simple luxury of dining out, and the priceless joy of time with loved ones.

Life may never be exactly what it was "in the before," but I believe it will eventually be great again "in the after."

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