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An unexpected celebration

By Stacie Chadwick

Thunderbirds over Colorado

As we travel life’s journey, we pre-check a lot of big moments. Seminal ones like weddings, milestone-inspired birthdays and bringing children into the world. Most of these occasions have memory-searing significance, and they bear a weight and stature that’s truly breathtaking.

What we don’t see and feel as much are unplanned occurrences that can sometimes be as impactful as those we expect. They’re rare and unanticipated, and when they happen, they land on our doorstep as unforeseen gifts.

On Saturday, April 18, the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds flew over our Front Range to salute essential Colorado workers who, although they didn’t sign up for a pandemic, continue to show up day after long 14-hour day to keep the world moving forward. This mile high gesture was both a great gift to everyone in our state, an act of unity and solidarity and a spirit-lifting injection of hope.

Standing separately yet together, hundreds upon hundreds of families, neighbors and passersby lined the streets of Castle Pines. As I stood outside my car and watched the jets race by under a cloudy, gray sky, I found myself in a state of unexpected emotion punctuated by a steady stream of tears. I looked around and just lost it.

I cried for the dead and for the weary. I cried for important missed milestones like graduations, weddings, parties, and proms. I cried for the millions of people laid low by both economic and physical pain. I cried for everything and everyone that has been lost.

But intermixed with my pain-fueled tears was an equal amount that sprang from love.

I cried for the undeniable feelings of peace and harmony that rushed over me. I cried for those continuing the fight and bending the curve toward a win. I cried for the beauty in both small and large gestures of strength. I cried for the collective generosity that underpins our society. I cried because in that moment, I didn’t feel alone.

I have no doubt there was something bigger binding us together that day, a spirit of unity and brotherhood that transcended everything else. And in that moment of looking up toward the sky, I knew that everything was going to be okay. Not today or tomorrow, but someday. That we would become a better populace and a stronger human race. That we would honor our friendships and cherish our families. That we would remember difficult lessons learned.

If there’s a silver lining to this terrible disease perhaps it’s that we’ll no longer take meaningful moments for granted, whether they’re big or small. Perhaps we’ll focus more on what truly matters and block the noise that gets in the way. Perhaps we’ll learn to become comfortable with stillness and solitude in a world where, more often than not, we rush through life’s most interesting details. Perhaps we’ll learn to cherish everything good that comes our way. Perhaps.



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