Lessons learned from 'My Corona'

Three weeks ago, I had it all.

I was the lead in my school musical, "Footloose," I was going to Disney World, and I was anticipating the excitement that comes with the end of senior year.

Then everything I was so certain about, everything that had been keeping me motivated for the past few months, was turned upside down. Disney World closed, canceling the trip I had looked forward to for months. School was out for two weeks, and school activities were closed for more than a month. And on top of all that, my musical was canceled.

Not postponed, completely canceled. I would never get the opportunity to play Ariel Moore and strut around in my red cowgirl boots, on the Nazareth stage for one last time.

At first, these losses felt overwhelming. I was upset, of course, but mostly defeated and annoyed. What was the point, I thought, of all of my hard work, if there was no reward? The thing about loss is that it is rarely expected or anticipated - it just comes like a tidal wave knocking you over, just when you start to think that things are turning around for the better. Loss, no matter how big or how small, is put in front of us to test us, to force us to handle circumstances and struggles that we never imagined having to deal with, shaping us into better and stronger people. It teaches us to never take life for granted, to appreciate the little everyday joys in life. Because even the smallest of joys, something as simple as grabbing a bite to eat with my best friend, is not guaranteed. Every day we get to live is not owed to us, it is gifted. And often we forget that.

Instead of looking at this virus as an obstacle, I have decided to look at it as an opportunity. I finally have had the time to read, finishing off three books in the past four days. I've enjoyed family game night three nights in a row (the kids dominate at Taboo), which is something I haven't done since I was 12, and I have spent quality time with my brother and sister, appreciating our short drives to get coffee or jamming out to music in the Chick-fil-A drive-through. Because the truth is that despite the things I've lost, life is still pretty good.

And although performing in one last show would have been great and my Disney World trip magical, eventually those times would have ended, just like most things in life. But friends and family, and the laughs and memories and love we share with them, last forever.

And when all of this is over, when life returns to normal, I know I'll appreciate the gift of life more. I know I already do.

- Katie Hughes of Hinsdale, a senior at Nazareth Academy, is a contributing columnist. Readers can email her at [email protected].