In Memory of Mildred S. and Ronald K.

The year 2020 was my worst year to date. As we ring in the new year in 2021, I find it hard to move on from the trauma and to be hopeful for a better year ahead. In January, I turned 26 surrounded by my wonderful friends. I made plans with my family to throw my mom a surprise 60th Birthday party in the spring, and to spend a weekend in May at a cabin celebrating my best friend’s recent engagement. The pandemic would ultimately change all that.

In the first week of March, I watched the news of the virus in Europe and Asia, naively thinking it would never come here. The next week, life came to an abrupt halt. In April, 2020 tested me. I learned that my grandmother was sick in the hospital with COVID. I was terrified by this news, because she was 87 and had Dementia, so she was not in good health. For a whole week she fought the virus but couldn’t manage to overcome it.

Eventually she had such severe blood clots that she had multiple strokes and lost all her cognitive ability. She was alive, but only medically. Her body was giving out and she suffered in pain in Hospice care while we waited for her time to come. A nurse donned a full hazmat suit so she could bring her cellphone in to my Grandma’s room, and we each called her and said goodbye, while she lay there unconscious. I hope she could hear me. I choose to believe she could, and that she went with the comfort of knowing that her family loved and missed her. The doctors removed her feeding tube, and she suffered for four more days before the virus finally took her.

I sat by the phone during those days, waiting for the call that it was time. I will never forget when the phone rang. I answered, expecting the news of my grandma. What I got instead was worse. My mom was on the other end in hysterics, screaming. She was screaming that my cousin was dead. My 32-year-old cousin, who lived 5 minutes away from my parent’s house, my cousin who worked with my dad every day. My cousin who had two young teenagers, a daughter in elementary school, and a four-month-old son. My cousin who I had grown up with and who I loved very much. My cousin who was facing depression and came into a bad way, using drugs to cope. The pandemic took him too.

The reality of life had become too much for him, and the way he chose to cope killed him. Four days later, I got the other call. The pandemic took my grandma, too. There were no wakes. There were no funerals. There where were no family gatherings. All we had was the crippling pain of loss, and anger at the government for allowing us to get here. 2020 was my worst year to date.