PHOTOS: Finding Joy Amid Pandemic’s Anxiety And Heartache

Joy is visible during the pandemic, just not with the usual, recognizable cues.

Is a laugh or smile any less heartwarming if it’s hidden from view? Are eye crinkles the new prompts of a smile covered by a mask?

Associated Press photographers, tasked with reporting on the crisis, have looked for bliss, as well. And amid so much heartache and anxiety, they’ve found it.

There’s no mistaking the kinship between humans and pets in the image taken in Silvio Pettirossi International Airport in Asuncion, Paraguay. Dumas the Labrador doesn’t know the passenger heading to Miami, but they greet paw to hand and nose to nose.

Just being able to inhale deeply is a universal theme of contentment. In Beijing, after two months of staying inside, a man pushes aside his mask and throws his arms wide as he stands alone to enjoy spring among the cherry blossoms in Beijing’s Yuyuantan Park.

There is joy in marking milestones — and in the ingenuity it takes to do so, under the circumstances. Husband and wife in Annapolis, Maryland, marking their 56th wedding anniversary with a quiet at-home day of isolation, are surprised by family and friends with a honking convoy to celebrate.

And there remains joy in routine. Separated by balconies and ground-floor shouting distance, employees at the Vi at the La Jolla Village retirement complex in San Diego maintain nearly daily aerobics sessions. Senior residents participate from their patios, stories above.

There are other moments of exultation specific to this time: the ovations with which the public rewards health care workers for their kindness and courage, and their grateful response. Long after the words “social distancing” fade from memory, the sound of that applause will resound.