Brianne Fleming mug

“Take for granted” — by definition, it means failing to properly appreciate someone or something, especially as a result of overfamiliarity.

Last Wednesday, I did many things differently. I often travel to Elk County to conduct several interviews within one day, making the most of my trips there from DuBois.

But that day was very different. When I stopped to pump gas, I put gloves on. When I met a woman I was interviewing for a story, I didn’t shake her hand. When I stopped to pick up my lunch, my favorite cafe and deli in downtown St. Marys was empty.

The streets of Elk County, normally buzzing with activity, were eerily slow, going against everything I have grown to know in the last several months.

I thought about anything and everything with which I came into contact that day — door knobs, a cup of coffee, the cash with which I paid for my lunch... And hand sanitizer was my new best friend (if you can find it in the store, that is), despite how dry and flaky my hands have become.

In just a matter of a couple of weeks, our world seems to have collapsed, and I’m sure many people are with me when I say it has caused me to notice how selfish people can really be.

It’s also made me realize how much we took for granted before coronavirus, the little things that seemed trivial a couple of weeks ago — shaking a stranger’s hand, sitting down to lunch in a crowded restaurant, stopping at the store for necessities without having to wear a mask and look at bare shelves or wait in lines halfway around the block, seeing full parking lots at restaurants and plazas.

Being able to visit loved ones at nursing homes or hospitals that have now closed their doors to the public. Celebrating a birthday or graduation or anniversary with family in a living room. Hearing a sneeze or a sniffle and not fearing the worst — it’s probably just allergies.

Being able to walk into City Hall and pay a bill, go to the gym to better our health or praise at church on a Sunday — it could go on. When we will have these opportunities again?

I hope, now more than ever, people use this chaotic time to reflect on themselves and their blessings. What things could we do two weeks ago without a second thought, that now scare us to death?

Everything has changed. But for me, the lesson is the same as it was before — count your blessings, every day. You never know when they will be taken away.

Brianne Fleming is a reporter for the Courier Express in DuBois and makes her home in Falls Creek. Besides writing, she has a passion for animals, exercising and spending time with friends and family.