These times are strange and scary. We currently live in a paradox. We have the crucial responsibility to keep our distance from one another, and yet in this period of isolation we are more united than ever. This paradox is a testament to the confusing, unprecedented, saddening, yet simultaneously inspiring and uplifting nature of our world right now. When fear and uncertainty surround us, we have only each other to turn to. I have been uplifted by the kindness, love, support, and selflessness that our community, both locally and nationally, has exhibited. And although it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the crisis in our world, shifting my focus to the people that live in it has catalyzed a relieving change in perspective. Suddenly, I am observing this chaotic time through a lens of gratitude, appreciating the indispensable actions of many indispensable people.

The selflessness and compassion of first responders on the front line of this crisis is truly and utterly inspiring. They sacrifice so much to help protect others. Thank you infinitely to the doctors, nurses, and all the medical staffers who exercise their intellect, bravery, compassion, and humanity in order to take care of us. To those stocking grocery stores, delivering mail and packages, delivering groceries, and keeping essential businesses running: thank you. Thank you for valiantly and selflessly ensuring that our country remains functioning through these unprecedented times. The world is inspired by all of you and our words may never express the extent of our gratitude.

I am also inspired by those who are quarantined in their homes and donating time and efforts to care for others and spread positivity. I have been a part of Wilton High School theater productions since the beginning of my freshman year, therefore when Hello Dolly, my final show on the Wilton High School stage, was canceled, my spirits were dampened. The recent cancellation of the production was expected but very disappointing no less. However, our director, producer, and the theater community at large has come together to support us and lift our spirits, sending love through videos and music. I am also thankful for my teachers who are facilitating Zoom meetings and virtual discussions in order to reunite and connect my classes. Seeing the faces of my peers and teachers restores a sense of normalcy and subsequent tranquility critical to coping with these strange times. We all need each other right now, and the supportive, compassionate energy that people are releasing into the universe is undeniably uplifting. I am thankful for the astounding sense of togetherness that is combating society’s current physical isolation.

Until now, I have never truly realized how malleable the phrase “thank you” is. It is so simple yet can be so profound. Prior to this pandemic, thank you was often a polite phrase that one says in an effort to exercise good manners. But right now, the whole world knows what “thank you” means. The words are heavier, loaded with love and sincere, indescribable appreciation. While at first, two simple words felt insufficient in response to the profoundly selfless, critical, and loving actions of first responders throughout this pandemic, I believe that they have now taken on a wholly new meaning.

Now, thank you means everything.