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I have a lot to be thankful for today.

It did not seem like that would be the case one week ago. I had a flight scheduled for Wednesday to head up to my home in Metro Detroit. From there on Thursday, I would drive further north for a weekend getaway in my family’s Northern Michigan cabin in the woods on a lake -- a trip we had planned nearly six months in advance. Even some of the COVID-19 restrictions in the state were lifted just in time for about eight of us to safely make the trip…

…until the “500 year flood” broke out and put parts of the state under about 10 feet of water. It collapsed the spillway in the community we were headed to and closed all roads but one -- and that one was in danger of collapsing into a raging river. 

That all came to my attention hours before my flight. I rode the plane distraught that one of my most-sought after events of the entire year was canceled thanks to the second biggest act of God this year has seen.

And the first isn’t even over yet. COVID-19 cases continue to rise, but the hope that sports could return soon remains intact. The NHL has already announced their plans should the season resume and, I’ve got to admit, the prospect of a 24-team playoff is extremely intriguing, even if my hometown team isn’t involved. 

The NBA is looking closer by the day to continuing its season at Disney World of all places. 

I can’t be so optimistic about the MLB, though. Hopefully greed won’t kill the 2020 season faster than a pandemic could. 

We had the extremely fun golf tournament between Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, which raised millions upon millions of dollars while giving us something to watch for a few hours. 

As great as many of those things are, none of them do for the benefit of my soul that this weekend at home did. 

For the first time in 2020, I got to spend a night surrounded by friends (albeit under 10 people but, still, my heart was full) sharing beers and a bonfire. We got to catch up face-to-face, deliver heartfelt hugs and reflect upon the times we might have forgotten from a world that sometimes feels as though it may never return.

I got to sit with my family, hug my aunts and see my cousins’ faces -- people I haven’t seen since Christmas that I had grown fond of spending time with at least once per week while I still lived at home. 

I sat on my couch with my brother, my mom and a select few of my closest friends playing party games. We shared laughs over Cowboy Bebop and awe upon Game of Thrones

We played card games, made small-time bets and, for the first time in a long time, the world didn’t seem so bad after all.

I flew back on Memorial Day only to return to reality… but the time away from it did me well. I’ve been reminded of the beauty that waits for us on the other side of this unprecedented and unrepeatable present. I have had a new breath of life blown into my lungs and I am ready to face these challenges of us against the world head on with the hope that I will never forget what it feels like to be surrounded by loved ones again. 

So with that, I ask you to remain safe. Wash your hands, wear a mask, be smart. Let’s return to the world we recognize sooner than later.

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