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Each Monday, Tommy Tomlinson delivers thoughtful commentary on an important topic in the news. Through these perspectives, he seeks to find common ground that leads to deeper understanding of complex issues and that helps people relate to what others are feeling, even if they don’t agree.

The treasure of friends to fight the COVID blues

WFAE’s Tommy Tomlinson and his family ran smack into the COVID wall last week. In his "On My Mind" commentary, he talks about an unexpected silver lining.

It was quite a time at our house last week. All three of us — me, my wife, and her mom — all tested positive for COVID.

In some ways we were really lucky — we managed to dodge the thing for three and a half years. But we sure as heck didn’t feel lucky. My mother-in-law was in bed for two days. I had a 5-alarm migraine for three days. My wife didn’t test positive until later, but she’s had a couple of wobbly days too.

We were vaxxed and boosted, we’ve been to the doctor and got the proper medications, and we’re feeling better across the board. We should be fine. I just wanted to be clear that, in case you hadn’t noticed, COVID is still very real. Most people have gone back to living their normal maskless, crowded lives — I know we sure had — so just understand that you still have to weigh the risks and take care of yourself.

But that’s not what I really want to talk about.

What I want to talk about is what happened after we tested positive, and let our friends know about it.

Immediately they started showing up at our door more often than the Amazon truck.

We had a hard time finding COVID tests so some friends brought four five-packs from Costco. The same friends brought laundry detergent since we’ll eventually need to wash every stitch of fabric in the house.

We are so loaded up with food that I keep checking around to make sure nobody died. We’ve got Lupie’s vegetable soup, which might be the healing potion of the universe. We’ve got two or three other kinds of soup. We’ve got chicken salad and pimento cheese and I don’t know what all in the fridge. Other folks are bringing more and still others have offered. We won’t have to cook again until 2027.

We are so deeply grateful for our friends, while at the same time realizing this is what good friends do. We have been blessed in the same way before, and we have delivered blessings other times, when friends and loved ones have been sick or grieving.

These are the small but powerful forces that keep us close. They’re like the bonds of an atom: They don’t seem like much in and of themselves, but they hold the whole universe together.

Every so often Alix and I daydream about moving. We talk about what it would be like to live down on the coast, where I’m from, or up in the Midwest, where she’s from. Those places still pull on us, and sometimes the pull is strong. But we’ve been in and around Charlotte for more than 30 years now, most of that time together. We love the city but most of all we love our friends here. That feeling is stronger than any virus.

I wouldn’t wish how last week started for us on anybody. But what happened after that … I’d wish that for everybody.

Tommy Tomlinson’s "On My Mind" column runs Mondays on WFAE and WFAE.org. It represents his opinion, not the opinion of WFAE. You can respond to this column in the comments section below. You can also email Tommy at ttomlinson@wfae.org.

Tommy Tomlinson has hosted the podcast SouthBound for WFAE since 2017. He also does a commentary, On My Mind, which airs every Monday.