Love and Loss

2020 has profoundly impacted every aspect of my life, but most of all has impacted how I think about love and loss. At the start of the pandemic, I quickly accepted the new reality of staying indoors, social distancing, and working from home. Things started to change in April once the Covid numbers in my home state of New York were skyrocketing. I could barely focus on my daily life, knowing all of my family members could potentially be sick. My worst fears materialized when my grandmother, at the age of 77, died of Covid on April 16, 2020. When my grandma was sick with Covid, I also saw my mom, my grandma's oldest daughter, try her hardest to save my grandma's life. My mom even taped take out food containers to her forehead as makeshift PPE - something that sounds like it's out of a sci-fi novel.

I was completely distraught after my grandma passed away. As the oldest of seven grandchildren, my grandma and I had a very special bond. I grew up in a very close family and spent a large portion of my young life with her. It felt so wrong to have to attend her funeral through a screen since we couldn't hold a service for her in person. After my grandma died from covid, I didn’t leave my apartment for almost a month straight - terrified I would get the same virus that killed her and so many others. I didn’t feel the sun on my face for weeks. The first time I left my apartment was to go to the hospital for several scary health concerns, including a biopsy procedure. The next day, I found out my beloved family dog was diagnosed with terminal cancer she could never recover from. I decided to leave my apartment and travel to New York to make sure I could be there to say goodbye. We loved our dog as if she was a member of our family, and it felt impossibly hard to say goodbye after just having to do the same for my grandma.

Losing two members of my family has already changed me immensely, and will continue to do so for a long time. My family is still struggling to make sense of the loss, especially during this holiday season. It's also a daily challenge for me to see people not taking the virus seriously and not understanding its deadly realities. Most days, 2020 feels like a nightmare I'm reliving over and over again.

When I reflect on the most important lessons I've learned this year, a quote I heard during a CNN covid memorial service sticks out to me: "The measure of your loss was the measure of your blessing. The reason you grieve is because you had this blessing in your life. And that remains and that is in you." I am who I am today and for the rest of my life because of my grandma and dog.

Their love and strength are what keeps me going.