Thursday, May 28, 2020

COVID Student Journal: I said Kobe was just the beginning

(Student submission Spring 2020)


The date is May 3rd, 2080 its been 60 years since the Global Pandemic Covid-19.

I am sitting on my front porch with my virtual cup of coffee watching the virtual sunset with my virtual granddaughter Lilly who just turned 12 she is spending the weekend with her favorite nana. She is in the 7th grade and must write her first big girl paper the topic is “The hardest obstacle you’ve ever faced” her being 12 hasn’t faced many so she asks what mine was. 

I stare off blankly and my mind flashes back to March 2020. I see flashbacks of my grandparents, my school, my job, my mom crying, me crying it's all dark.

I bring back my attention to Lilly and say you might want to get comfortable she laughs but I don’t crack a smile it was the hardest time I had experienced in my young life. Apparently 2020 is in her history books she asked “Isn't that the year that one basketball player died, and the world went crazy over”. 

I said Kobe was just the beginning. I flash back to Tallahassee Florida I'm 21 and I'm happy. I work at chick fila as a shift lead the job was hard, but I loved the people I work with out of my 81 years they are still some of the kindest people I ever come across. I am living on my own supporting myself barley but loving every minute of the freedom. I am with my high school sweetheart Grandpa T. We had been dating for four years he was deployed on his first deployment in the Navy his first port call was Vietnam.... but we will get into that later. 2020 was supposed to be my year it was supposed to be the year I got my AA degree from Tallahassee Community College where I had been living on my own for two years life was good I had a great circle of friends my family was all still alive we were the happiest we could have been but then March comes around. 

Being 21 I was thrilled for march it was spring break and I was finally 21 I was going to enjoy it but oh was that a sick joke. I got sick the week before a normal curable Strep Throat case nothing crazy I got antibiotics for it and headed home to my mom for an early week and a half vacation. 

Being 21 with no care in the world I didn’t keep up with the news or what was going on in the world. I came home and kept hearing about a funny joke that was going around on Instagram it was called the Corona Virus and people were “Preparing” for the virus with a case of my favorite beer. I played along and brought a case of beer home and joked no virus was going to get me. But this virus wasn’t a joke. 

This virus killed so many people. It tore apart my family, my friends, myself. Within the next couple of days, it all changed my spring break week was all canceled all beaches, bars, hangs outs, restaurants, shops it all closed. 

All my friends were laid off great grandma Ni she lost her job. 

And just like that It all closed Disney closed their doors first during the busiest time for them they closed. The economy which was finally so good and thriving took the ultimate crash life as we knew it was done and gone. You only had a job if you worked in the medical field, for the government, or fast food which I was fortunate enough to have. I went from working 15-20 hours a week to 45-50 hours a week we lost half of our staff they were either too scared to come back to work or saw no point being the main reason for them being in Tallahassee was only for school which had turn all online. 

We were put on mandatory lockdowns between 11-5am we were only allowed out of the house for essential reasons. I was trying to support myself and I also had to help great grandma Ni with her bills I was so tired I had no time to breath if I wasn’t at work I was working on school work, packing up my entire apartment by myself or helping consult m friends and family members all terrified to walk outside.

 I had limited contact with Grandpa T he was on deployment and he was on the other side of the world our times never really matched up unless he would get up at 3am and I would stay up late to talk to him. He was happy and experiencing the world he was making history too. He had pulled into Vietnam a place we had went to war with and recently been welcomed back with and he was the second American ship to dock in Vietnam sense the war he was swore to be on his best behavior and pay the people of Vietnam with the ultimate respect. The country was beautiful he went on tour went snorkeling and ate the cuisine. He was aware of the corona virus, but the people of Vietnam had not reported any cases and they were excited to see the American people and get their money. 

    During grandpa's adventure and emergency call is placed and all 5,000 sailors were ordered to immediately return to the ship. Cases of the corona virus had been reported the sailors were forced to sleep on the concrete docks and sleep sitting up in the night before being able to board back onto the ship once on the ship they were health screened and if anyone had any symptoms the were quarantined that didn’t help any. A week after pulling out of Vietnam the ship was quickly overcome with sickness. People were testing positive left and right and even Grandpa T was positive for it. He said it was horrible he couldn’t taste, smell, breath he couldn’t stop coughing and had horrible night sweats and wished death over the pain he was in. The ship pulled into Guam 3 weeks after pulling into Vietnam after having confirmed over 200 cases aboard. The captain of the ship was so concerned for his sailors that he was trying and trying to get medical help and to properly quarantine the sailors after being denied and told to “suck it up” that his plea for help was leaked and it wasn’t until then that once the world caught end of the conditions and hardship they were all facing that they started moving off the ship and were put into self-isolations. This came 5 weeks after pulling out of Vietnam at this point over half the ship has been infect and positive for the virus. There were hundreds off sailor on pull out cots on gym floors stuck there for weeks some posted in base housing other isolated in hotel rooms some infested with cockroaches and no AC. It was tough the captain was “relieved of his position” and was all over the news for his actions. Although everyone knew he saved those sailors lives and was a true hero risking his own job for the safety of his men. One of the sailors even died after being found unresponsive. The virus turned everything around Grampa’s 5-month deployment turned into 10 months. His boat was the first of many to get infected. Life as I knew it was gone the world was headed into a different direction and I was scared and uncertain of if it was a good or bad direction. I was supporting myself and my mom and my boyfriend from a far I was scared and didn’t know what to do next or how to prepare for a deadly virus.

It was a scary time, but we all made it through it. Things began to slowly open and people slowly began to come around and be social again. It was a scary time of uncertainty. Times were tough after that people who were barely making ends meets fell further behind some lost their homes, others lost their lives to the virus it was a dark world for a while. 2020 will forever be a memory of darkness and the textbooks don’t do it justice the world was a mess no one knew what to do the end of the world felt like it was coming any day. Lilly looked up to me and hugged me she knew it was hard to talk about she said, “You were right Kobe really was the beginning.”