A Quarantined Life Part 5: A Lovely Moment of Humanity This Morning from Hoda Kotb…

It’s amazing what you can see when you simply open your eyes. If this COVID-19 quarantine has taught me anything, it has taught me how blindly I have been living my day-to-day life. It’s actually a self-defense mechanism that I developed when I went through cancer. To keep from being spooked from every test, blood draw, or chemotherapy infusion, I put on my racehorse blinders and kept looking forward. It was very effective.

And now with this extra time on my hands, I realize that I’d never really extricated myself from that practice. Like many parents with active kids, I kept a schedule of everything just to keep up with the busyness of life.

Monday — Tae Kwon Do.

Tuesday — Ben’s basketball practice.

Wednesday — Equations practice. Another Tae Kwon Do if we can squeeze it in between the end of dinner and showering, but only if they’re done with homework. If not, I’ll be going solo.

Thursday — Sam’s basketball practice.

Friday — One has a dance, the other a sleepover.

And don’t get me started on weekends. Coming up this spring, Benny had baseball and track… Sam had lacrosse and golf.

And now, it’s gone. All of it. And it’s been replaced by… simply being. For many, myself firmly included, this feels completely unnatural. I’m one of those persons who feels that if I’m not doing something to make life move forever forward, I’m somehow wasting my time. As these days go on, and I’m forced to move at a slower pace, I’m really beginning to realize just how much of life I’ve missed… of how I have failed to live in the moment, instead of just being present in the moment.

So I have tried to make a concerted effort to be more aware of the things around me… and it paid off big time this morning.

Like many of you, I turn on a television when I’m making breakfast in the morning. It’s usually for the weather, or traffic, or the quasi-companionship of background noise. Most mornings, I couldn’t tell you a single thing about any of the broadcast, save that it’s going to be sunny and 71 degrees, and Interstate-270 is a parking lot.

But today, while watching Today, Hoda Kotb brought me to a standstill. She had just interviewed Drew Brees, QB for the New Orleans Saints, about his outrageously generous $5,000,000.00 donation to help the folks of New Orleans deal with COVID-19.

Throughout the interview, you could tell how much Drew and Hoda liked each other, first talking about the donation, and then devolving into every conversation parents have with each other: their kiddos. Brees joked that he had to spend an inordinate amount of time helping his 5th grader with math, and how if he was the one who had to take his kid’s test, he’d be in real trouble.

And then the loveliest thing happened… as Hoda said goodbye, she was due to read the tease about what was coming up next on the show. She didn’t even get a word out before breaking down in tears.

Live. On the Today Show. Everything… stopped. Savannah Guthrie, broadcasting from her home, could do nothing but watch, and feel, and comfort, and come to the rescue by offering to read the tease for her co-worker and friend. It was lovely… human… and genuinely touching. I couldn’t help but choke back the lump in my throat. I even paused it and showed it to my wife Stephanie before she started work. She had much the same reaction.

And if it was any other given day in my life prior to COVID-19, I totally would have missed that. But I didn’t miss it. And while I’ve had my eyes open wide for the last couple of days, there are many things I’ve picked up on that I totally would have flown past me at the speed of life.

I realize that as these days go on, I’m learning more about my wife, my kiddos, and a whole lot more about myself. Of course I miss the normalcy of things prior, but I have to say that I’m thankful for this opportunity to grow. The more time this takes, the more I’m recognizing the silver linings.

And the more I realize I’m addicted to all eight Harry Potter films. USA and Syfy keep running marathons of them, and for that, I’m forever grateful. I figure it’s only a matter of time before Hallmark starts re-running Christmas flicks 24–7.

So in the meantime, stay safe. Stay sane. Talk soon.

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Dan Duffy

Hi, I’m Dan. I’m a husband, dad, cancer survivor, video producer, author, accidental activist, and fan of all things lovely.