My name is Zuleth Cervantes, I’m 18 years old, and this is my covid experience. I was living in Thousand Oaks California with my mother’s cousin. I left my hometown, Tijuana, Baja California, to continue my studies in the U.S. in the hope of a better future. Ever since I moved to California my life had been nothing but exciting. I was in my senior year in high school when the pandemic started, almost 3 months away from graduation. Like everyone else, I had lots of plans before the pandemic started; a New York trip with my theatre class, my last choir concert, presenting two plays I was part of, PROM, grad night at Disneyland and of course, the graduation ceremony. I also had gotten a job a month before covid started and I was just getting the hang of it when everything changed.
We had a week off school and my family wanted to see me so my mom asked me to go back to Tijuana for that week. I asked my boss for permission, I said my goodbyes to my friends before the “long weekend”, not knowing that during that week, they confirmed the rest of the school year would be online due to the now global pandemic. My family decided I would stay in Tijuana for the rest of the school year. I had to quit my job; my boss was not happy. I spent those three months we had left of the school year crying about not saying my proper goodbyes to my friends before leaving Thousand Oaks.
The school set the date for the graduation ceremony, but my parents couldn’t take me because only U.S. citizens could cross the border due to the pandemic. Luckily, I have an aunt who lives in Winton, California, who offered to take me to my graduation ceremony. The plan was to go to the graduation in Thousand Oaks, then go to her place at Winton and spend a couple of weeks there bonding with my cousins and then she would take me back to San Diego, where I would start living with a cousin of mine that had a place close to the college I wanted to go to.
After a week at my aunt’s place in Winton, we were infected with covid. Her neighbor, who is my uncle’s cousin, went into our house to ask for food. My aunt let her come in, trusting she was not only family, but responsible enough to not go inside the house if she was having any symptoms. A few days later we found out she tested positive to her coved test and we went to get tested at a local clinic. It took 10 days for the clinic to give us the results. During that time I took care of my two little cousins. My aunt and uncle couldn’t get out of bed. They had high fever, headache and their body hurt all the time.I didn’t know how to cook but I did my best to cook for everyone and keep the house in order, even if I was feeling pretty bad myself. At least I wasn’t as affected as my aunt and uncle were.
In the first results we got, only my aunt tested positive. After we got the first results we went to get tested and waited 15 days. We all tested positive. We went to get a last test. My little cousins would cry everytime they noticed we were heading to the hospital, because the covid test is very painful. My uncle needed to go back to work soon because he was not getting paid anymore. Every week we would go to the boxes of free food the schools or the army gave away to people.
The results of our third covid test tested positive. It had been a month and a half since we had our first test and we were still infected. The clinic explained to us that covid can remain in one’s body for a few weeks more than usual in some people. A few weeks later, after a 4rth covid test, we all tested negative. My uncle went back to work, my aunt took me home.
During the time I suffered the symptoms of covid, I could only think about my family, of how much I missed them. They were worried sick about me, and all I wanted to do was go home. I felt depressed being kept inside for months. I also had to deal with college registration and it was a very stressful process due to covid and it didn’t help my mental health at all. I learned to take more value on things. I value my family, being closer to them now that I live in San Diego. I value the time I spent with my aunt, even if it wasn’t as I pictured and it was for a little longer than planned. But overall, I value me and my family’s health more than ever, and I thank God every morning for my family’s health and I pray for us to survive this pandemic with good health.
Submitted by Zuleth Cervantes, Ventura County — Thousand Oaks.