Letter from the Editor: My Silver Lining for 2020

A silver lining that came out of a difficult 2020.

“Dude, drive safe,” I said at the door of my son’s tiny old Subaru, which I’d helped him pack to the brim. Neil was moving 1,000 miles away, to Nashville. “You know I love you.”

“Love you, too, Dad,” he replied, looking me in the eye. “I’m good.”

And he was.

When Neil came home in 2019 after a humbling final year in college, ­Susan and I didn’t much know him. He didn’t know himself either. But we were all willing to connect on an honest level. Susan and I listened better. He got sober and healthy in mind and body. Gradually, we felt like a team.

Bruce Kelley and his son, Neil, pose for a photo on a hikeCourtesy Bruce Kelley

The quarantine, which struck six months in, only helped us. We got into a day-to-day rhythm and learned how to back each other up. Neil had asked Susan to teach him to cook, and now he got serious, preparing dinners for us that they had imagined together. We talked about the movies we watched, books he was reading. Mornings, he and I would go on hikes and talk about stuff I don’t talk with anyone about.

My droll son is a stickler for facts. Right now, reading this, he’ll almost certainly drop a hilarious line reminding me it wasn’t perfect.
But dude, it was perfect. So many moments, I felt how good his openness made me feel and how it made me more open in return.
My family knows I’m spectacular at sentimentality—I cry like a baby over dumb rom-coms. But gratitude in the moment, not so much. That’s an emotion I feel too late, along with regret at things unsaid, connections dropped.

Not in 2020. When he drove away, I teared up a little, but not the way I do when emotions denied flood in too late. We’d said everything we felt. I was just so happy for him. That’s my silver lining for 2020, and I’ll never forget it. Here are some more silver linings people found amid a pandemic. And thank you, as always, for reading.

portrait of Bruce KelleyMatthew Cohen for Reader's Digest
Bruce Kelley, Editor-in-Chief

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Bruce Kelley
Bruce Kelley oversees content creation for both the US and International versions of Reader’s Digest magazines, as well as RD.com and all Reader’s Digest books, including Select Editions. With more than two decades of editorial experience, he has strong expertise leading a content team with a digital-first approach.