When the COVID-19 pandemic and attendant crisis is over, we will emerge with an entirely different understanding of our community and how we live in it.

We’re a very small and very interconnected group of people, towns and communitywide organizations. Most people wear more than one hat and many wear three or four.

The closeness that binds us together as a community takes so many forms. It’s knowing and greeting people as we go about our daily business, shopping, getting the mail, eating out, getting takeout.

It’s familiarity and fondness for the people you don’t see often but do recognize and appreciate and often take a minute to chat with about local stuff.

It’s our appreciation for our coworkers with whom we spend 40 hours a week. And it’s our besties whom we’re simply not seeing, other than digitally or electronically.

Having all that community and congenial interaction removed from our lives leaves a huge emptiness. After Mehuron’s reopened after being closed for a month due to a nearby fire, I ran into Jack from Bisbee’s at Mehuron’s.

“It’s so nice to be home,” he said, and I laughed and concurred.

I miss Jack, just like I miss the amazing deli folks at Mehuron’s. I miss stopping by Northfield Savings Bank on Fridays when Rosemarie White keeps hours there (easy to ask her school board questions when she’s there). I miss the Grandma Mafia at Three Mountain Cafe. And Martha at the post office, too. I think we all miss being able to hug people who are not living with us.

I miss all of you in our community, saying hello, stopping to talk about something trivial or important to you. I miss people stopping me in the grocery store or walking over to The Collection to suggest interesting news tidbits.

Having all that interaction taken away certainly illuminates just how incredibly valuable it is, how rich we are to have it, what a blessing it is. When this is over, and it will end, we’ll be able to reconnect with even more appreciation for how important community is to us and for us, and a greater understanding of how all our thousands of points of connection make our lives richer.

Help as best you can. Stay home and stay safe.