There are experiences in life that will shape you forever and change who you are and your perspective in life. Experiences that will leave a scar in your soul which you proudly show as a testimony of the journey you pilgrim to get where you are…. The scar that you look and smile and say above everything that happened during that time it made me the person who I am today. This current pandemic is one of those experiences that will leave a mark forever as it is shaping a different and hopefully a better version of me.
As I experienced this pandemic, many feelings went through my mind and without an invitation, the different steps of grief cripple over my body. Starting with the grief for the loss of the known to the constant change of the unknown. Then the grief for the loss of my comfort zone to pivot time and time again to what my changing environment was. There was also the grief of my alone time which shifted to a constant family communal time within our 4 walls. And finally, the grief of feeling healthy and strong to the uncomfortable feeling of vulnerability and being at risk of contracting the virus.
As I was going through my stages, the first one came as a denial. I remember seeing the news in which a novel virus was hitting other countries. Foreign lands on which the virus was spreading rapidly. In my denial stage I thought the virus will not hit us. That it will just be like the flu. That it will simply come and go. No need to panic or buy rolls and rolls of toilet paper. Sadly, our government fed and nourished this stage like a wound – downplaying the severity of the virus and not providing a clear science of the impact that will follow on the following months.
As the numbers of cases increased, my denial transition to the second stage – anger. Anger for the frustration of not doing the things I used to. Anger to the people that were and sadly still are in the denial stage. Anger for not being able to see my family across the country. Anger for all the limitations imposed by local government affecting the local economy in California. Anger for seeing my daughter experiencing her kindergarten year in a virtual format. A school year in which she goes from knowing her ABCs to writing and reading on her own.
During this time the movement of Black lives Matter was gaining traction and anger built up even more. Anger on how human beings were treating each other. How we were not listening each other. Anger at the polarization of the conversation instead of working together for a better future. Anger to see how business were vandalized staining the name of the cause being carried.
My anger lasted several weeks creating heaviness in my heart. During walks I realized it was time to move on from my anger and sadly went through the next stage. – depression. Not a deep clinical stage. But the sadness that comes for the lack of motivation to do anything. The type of sadness that covers you with a blanket and caresses you so you grow more distant to the people around you. The news became more and more negative and depressing digging my heals deeper and deeper into the mud my mind made. A swamp in which there was no self-compassion or direction for a brighter future.
The sadness and anger period – as painful as it was – offered me a time to reflect. Time to appreciate the small things in life. The gratitude that my family was not hit hard by Covid. That though my family had the virus during the early stages they were now healthy. That even when members of my family lost their job, there was a support system that carried them through. There was a community providing the help needed and financial support via government aid. It also made me realize how much I was loved by family and how much my family needed me. As I started to peel the onion, I was carrying the lighter me reinventing our communal time. If we were at a stay home order and wanted to travel, we will set up a tent in our living room apartment in the Bay area and camp. It was true joy to see for the first time my 5 year old telling a “scaring story” with a lamp under her chin as she tells the cutest monster story she will imagine. During this stage I registered to a writing class and found my voice in each story I wrote. I was able to make peace with past ghosts on every paper I read to the class. It also gave me courage to try new endeavors in my career and my personal life.
Covid-19 has been a tremendous teacher of perspective and what really matters in life. We are now in January 2021 and the positive cases are higher than ever in California. Many of the restrictions are still in place. But my perspective is on the bright side. A version of a future built on resilience and perseverance. A future full of hopes and dreams. Fear is not my enemy by my delicate cautionary little friend that constantly reminds me of how to take care of myself and others.
Submitted by R.V.G., Contra Costa County – Walnut Creek.