I walked around the neighborhood today and was met with the soft breeze of hope. Neighbors were talking, children were skating, and I realized how very, very much I missed the voices. I even missed the voice of our young neighbor who tends to march around his backyard at 7:30 a.m. shouting to the top of his lungs.

As we venture out of our bunkers, we are hesitant to believe that maybe, just maybe, life can resume in a way that feels somewhere close, not to normal, but not to the apocalypse either. I know that change never leaves things quite the same, but things weren’t the same before that change either. Our brain has a way of remembering everything in a nice, orderly, perfect way that probably never existed.

But let’s admit it – this feels good. It is spring, and rather than watching the news constantly to see if a vaccine is anywhere in our future, many of us have had or are getting that vaccine and feeling immense gratitude for those healthcare workers and scientists and doctors who made this all possible.

Just the other day I hugged my 33-year-old son. The last time I hugged him he was 32. While this might not be exciting news for him, it was awesome for me. I saw my 88-year-old mother for the first time in a year, and while it might sound cliché, it is the small human touches that I’ve missed most of all.

I haven’t missed traffic. As I ventured onto our local interstate to see my mom there was an accident and I saw a sea of brake lights. I had no idea how much my daily stress involved being in a vehicle. I might just buy a horse.

I think for many of us this period of introversion has also provided some interesting opportunities. It’s forced us to reconsider what we are doing with our lives. Once we were forced to get quiet, we realized what makes our heart skip a beat, what makes it speed up, and what bums it out.

We realized that taking time to put together a meal for people we loved felt good when we had some time back from the interstate and the meetings that were excessive. At least that’s what I heard from my friends who cook.

In the first couple of months, when the earth stood still, I saw that the skies were bluer, the birds more plentiful, and the stars more abundant. I think earth might just appreciate the time we gave it a few months to rejuvenate, although the cardboard boxes from Amazon left at my doorstep could fill an ocean.

While focus allowed, we noticed people not being treated fairly, and politicians being dishonest, and we showed up to vote in record numbers.

Let’s face it, we wouldn’t ever choose this again and pray we get to the other side. But there is something about the whole experience that rejuvenated my faith in humanity and my hope for this earth.

We adapted. We worked. Some of us lost our jobs. Others of us lost loved ones. I hope that as we venture into the future we never forget the pain, we continue to heal ourselves and the earth, and we show gratitude for the resilience of all involved.