When COVID-19 first became a topic of discussion in February and March of 2020, I didn’t really think anything of it and figured, “Hey, as long as I get my Flu shot, I’m good.” No one around me knew anyone that actually had it and people were beginning to freak out and overwhelm the shopping scene. However, things quickly changed when I found out that both of my parents had contracted the virus and were now bed-ridden with a temperature of 104.8 every day and feeling like they were honestly nearing death. They had the virus and were in that state for six solid months before showing any signs of progress. They did test positive for antibodies in September but up to that point, they were told to stay at home and to not go to the hospital unless they were actually dying. Even after testing positive for antibodies, they were still shedding the virus which means they were still contagious. So we did not end up getting to reunite until October.

Around the same time that I found out my parents were fighting through every day and that I was not allowed to go see them or do anything about it, I found out my Interpreter Preparation Program was going online with everyone else. This led to a feeling of isolation, exhaustion without leaving a chair, and ubiquitous depression of or the quarantined experience. Shortly after going online, the Brewery that I work at was closed and I was forced to go onto unemployment. With literally millions of people applying for unemployment a day, the process was long and arduous. I was concerned for my parents’ health, my level of education and skills after remote learning, and some sense of shame and failure for having to be unemployed and barely making it through each week. Finding the motivation to do school online or try to find work beyond just pressing a button online to accept a chunk of money from unemployment was almost impossible. The mental and physical toll of waking up, sitting in a chair and looking at a computer screen with lots of little boxes for 8 hours, then going to bed was really adding up and finishing the semester was very difficult.

I felt a whole mix of emotions towards the situation, how people around Colorado Springs were handling it, and how our government/the world is handling it. I quickly had to approach those questions and lines we have all had to consider lately which is, how much do I need to freak out? Who am I fine being around without a mask, and who am I not? If I am comfortable doing one thing, why not the other? The perfect predicament is now later into the year close to the holidays. Thanksgiving and Christmas will be coming up in a few months and these questions are really on my mind. If my parents are still a high risk (which the doctors have confirmed they are, and stated if they get the virus again; they will die this time) do I need to isolate myself for two weeks before I see them for Thanksgiving? Should we even get together? What guarantee is there that they will not get it again by our small gathering. But also, I have always spent Thanksgiving with my parents. If I need to stay away to not put their life at risk, that is an easy but unfortunate choice. Now that we are in a time where the numbers are exponentially worse than the first time we locked down, people seem to care less about the virus and more about avoiding inconveniences. The problem is now the inner strife between family members who do not have common thoughts on the virus and how to deal with it. Now families are forced to choose to stay away from other members who are not taking precautions.

Everyone, I repeat, everyone has had a difficult year this year in some form or fashion. This has been the most bizarre, depressing, and challenging year of most of our lives. Although the end of the year is drawing closer, the end of the pandemic, civil unrest, online learning and interaction platform, and struggle is far from over. I think opportunities like this are extremely valuable. It is important to listen to other people’s experiences and consider what they have had to go through. Be there for people to talk to when we are all stuck at home and feeling isolated. Understand that regardless of how close you are to the virus, the BLM movement, the Presidency, or remote learning, we all get through this together by opening our hearts and minds to different information and perspectives. We all have a different truth of what happened this year and how it has impacted us. We all deserve the right to share it and be heard.