The pandemic took so much this past year – more than we are capable of grasping, let alone tallying. It took jobs and experiences, weddings and graduations, safety and certainty. It took the ground below our feet. It took many people we love.
But the pandemic gave, too. It granted time, and many people relished it. People found new hobbies, new perspectives, new connections. Some people found themselves.
The pandemic gave Elise Mull a stronger appreciation for the role of journalism in all of our lives. It deepened Kelly Shea’s bond with her sisters. Michael Weinberg found art and Robert Mueller found sobriety. As Janet Carter tended more purposefully to her garden, she found in the earth a promise that life would bloom once again.
USA TODAY heard from more than a dozen people who said even among the horror and loss, they felt grateful for the pandemic’s unexpected gifts. The smallest joys, they said, had a big impact.
Elise Mull, 70, missed her family and friends during the pandemic, but a quieter social calendar gave her more time to read – books and especially the news.
Mull always understood the value of a free press, but never had her relationship to the news been so intimate. It wasn’t just about staying abreast of COVID. She spent more time reflecting on the subjects of each story, re-examined her perceptions and read multiple points of view before deciding what she believed.
“It reminded me that the press really kind of informs our lives, and it spurs us to…