“Something Good Always Comes of It”

In this time of worldwide health crisis, it’s easy to get caught up in the daily news cycle containing the latest stats on how many people have become ill or died from COVID-19. This is a terrible tragedy, with the loss of livelihoods and the loss of lives on a global scale. We all know someone who has been affected by it in some way. But I believe it’s important, even in the face of crisis, to look for the bright side. So the optimist in me has to wonder: is it possible that something good can come from this?

As I pondered the question, I found myself thinking about my dear friend Jack O’Brien. I knew Jack and his wife Roberta “Bobby” when they lived on Doubleheader Mountain – they were my neighbors in the early 2000s. Well into their eighth decade, this couple still lived on our mountain in a lovely home they engineered and built back in the 1970s that was almost completely self-sufficient. It was ahead of its time, with passive solar and radiant heat and waterless composting toilets. The best part were the windows overlooking their sunny 10-acre meadow and Doubleheader Mountain itself. That meadow was the scene of many a neighborhood picnic with kids playing games and adults setting up tents with food, beer and wine to share. I have wonderful memories of them and our other neighbors there.

I was fortunate to share some visits with them after they needed to leave their home and move to assisted living. They had me over for dinner there more than once. Their apartment was small, with no views of the mountains they loved. But I heard no complaints – only rave reviews about the wonderful staff, the incredible food prepared daily by their chef and all the new friends they had made. In 2011 or so, I brought my boyfriend there to meet them and they heartily approved of Ron. They were like family to me and their approval was important.

But as these things go, eventually Jack and Bobby moved together to a nursing home. One of the last times I saw Jack, he was sitting upright in traction with a broken neck and separated by injury from his beloved Bobby. It took my breath away to see his suffering. But what was most remarkable was Jack’s reaction to it all. Before we left, he smiled wide and said to me with certainty, “No matter how bad things are, something good always comes of it.” The moment stuck with me and I’ve remembered Jack’s words through many a trying time since. His example always helped put my life into perspective, and for that I’ll always be grateful.

When we look for good, we usually find it and I as I look around, I see some positive things happening. As a society, we’ve been donating more and become conscientious about our consumption. We’re learning the lessons of hoarding and consuming less so there’s enough to go around. People in our community, like many around the world, are reaching out to neighbors and friends regularly. We’ve been creative in the way we socialize with video happy hours and calling our parents. We’ve realized how vulnerable we all are and how reliant we are on one another. We can see tangibly how connected we are to our fellow citizens across the planet because, quite literally, we’re all in this together.

On Easter Sunday we joined 2 million people around the world and watched Andrea Bocelli perform an Easter concert live from the Milan Cathedral. As he said at the beginning, “We will hug this wounded world’s pulsing heart.” If you missed the concert, you can see it here. He poignantly sang arias to an empty house with just an organist. For a finale, he walked outside and belted out “Amazing Grace.” His songs were to the whole world; to healing and rebirth. A fitting message on this Easter day.

  • I loved what you said. I agree wholeheartedly and I especially loved your memories of Jack and Bobby. I have so many similar memories. That was such a wonderful time when you and the O’Briens were still on the mountain. I know you are now in a much better place now but I sure miss you. I love Ron for giving you the life you have now. I am so proud of you both and I love what you are doing with your art. Take care and stay safe.

    Love you,

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