Lincoln Aftergood, Opinion Editor

When I heard the news on March 13 that school would be closed for two weeks, I was ecstatic. I saw it as two free weeks of sleeping in, seeing friends and relaxing. But over the course of the year of quarantine, I realized the importance of gratitude and living in the moment.

My realization began with a family friend. My parents received a call that she was sick, and because of her old age, it was serious. She had been hospitalized and was receiving emergency care. A few days later, she passed.

At a dinner meant to honor this family friend’s life, my grandfather caught COVID-19. There were multiple late nights, frantic phone calls and long talks with the nurses about his condition. He too soon passed.

These losses left my family reeling and me wondering if I had spent enough time with them. Or if I could have talked with them more and asked them more about themselves. It made me realize that I had taken them for granted.

I soon realized the truth. This break had never been a vacation, and I wanted to return to normal. I missed everything that I had before the pandemic.

I missed walking in the halls and waving at classmates. I missed being able to laugh with friends in class or hang out with them on the weekend. I even missed school.  

I never knew that I enjoyed waking up at 6 a.m., trudging sleepily to class and then returning home to complete small mountains of homework. But now that we have the chance to get it back, I am excited and grateful.

As we transition into normalcy, I implore you to be grateful for all you have. Whether it’s family members you love or the ability to go to school safely, be thankful.

Be especially thankful for the things you take for granted. One day they’ll be gone and you’ll be left wishing you had appreciated them more while you had them.

Even as you’re grateful, you can still realize that you missed or lost certain things. For example, JDS high schoolers missed a whole year of being together and many formative experiences. Many people lost close friends or family members.

But the thing about being grateful is that you try to see the positive in everything. We at JDS may have missed a year of in-person togetherness, but we still received a year of excellent education virtually. Many people lost loved ones, but they can still honor them by being grateful for the time they had with them.

You never really know what you have until it’s gone. So as we return to school, I am grateful for the chance to be in the halls again, talking with my friends and learning with my teachers. I won’t take it for granted ever again.