3 months in: A coronavirus reflection


Tribune News Service

Graphic by Veronica Wernicke and photo by Tribune News Service.

Veronica Wernicke, Opinion Editor

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic will have changed and have various lasting impacts on our lives forever. Different people will remember different things, but we will surely never forget this period of time.

The empty streets. The quietness. People wearing masks. The zoom video chats. The scarcity of toilet paper. The empty shelves. The essential workers. The weight of worrying.

30 years from now I will remember how worried and lonely I felt during this time.

Since March 17, when my university UNC Wilmington extended its spring break and switched to remote learning, I have been living at home with my dad and sister. I already lived and commuted to school so this was not a huge change for me. Despite having the companionship of my family every day, I still feel lonely. I was suddenly separated from my classmates, friends, boyfriend and the rest of my extended family.

We as humans are physical people who crave and desire physical in-person interaction with others and when we are robbed of that contact it affects us all.

I definitely did not feel like myself the first two weeks as the world adjusted to this new normal. I could not sleep and I surely did not know how to pass the time, even with classes still in session.

Despite knowing that I am an introvert and have never really wanted to be around a lot of people 24/7, I really began to miss interacting with people, especially my friends and family. It has been really hard going from seeing these people practically every day and then suddenly not getting to hang out and see the people you care about.

I miss embracing the people I care about with hugs and kisses. I miss feeling their touch. Yes, video chatting and texting allow us all to continue staying in touch, but sometimes only getting to see them through a screen makes me miss them even more. Video chatting reminds me further of the severity and uncertainty of this whole situation. I keep asking myself how long this will all last and how long will I have to be separated from the people I love and care about.

This feeling really hits me when I have finished all my work for the day, and I am laying or sitting in bed thinking. It has gotten even worse now that classes have finished for the semester and I do not have the same structure or as much to do day to day. I think about how bored and lonely I feel right in that very moment. As I lay in my bed looking up at the ceiling I listen to the TV downstairs, the dogs barking in my neighborhood, the wind outside my window and the buzzing coming from my fan. And for the millionth time, I wonder how long all of this will last.

I think and worry about loved ones who are working on the front lines or are essential workers. My aunt who works as a nurse at Tampa General Hospital, friends who work at grocery stores or restaurants and many others.

I worry the most about my boyfriend who works two jobs in Georgia. Amid the closures and shutdowns, he continued to work at his Walmart warehouse job where he works as a dry side order filler in order to keep the Walmart stores stocked. His warehouse already had one case of COVID-19 which only put me in further distress and worry. He was unable to work his second job at a vape shop until it reopened on April 24 along with the rest of Georgia. The premature reopen of Georgia has done very little to keep my worries about his health and safety at bay, especially 400 miles away in North Carolina.

On the bright side of things, our long-distance relationship prepared me for only getting to see each other through our screens. We went from seeing each other once a month or every two weeks to not knowing when we will get to see each other in person again.

I sit in those thoughts for a few minutes, but then I dig myself out of that hole and try to distract myself.

For a few days at a time, I am able to keep myself entertained or occupied. I have sewn masks for my family, made a t-shirt blanket, organized and re-organized various things in the house and have done a lot of cooking and baking.

Through all of this, I try to remind myself that at least I have my dad and sister with me. I know there are others out there who are self-isolating by themselves in their homes or apartments, probably feeling even lonelier than I do. At least we have technology which allows us to remain in contact with friends, co-workers and family.

No one knows how long all this will last and hopefully, in the next year, we will have a viable vaccine to give us back our sense of comfort and normalcy.

30 years from now, who knows where we will all be, but the current generations going through COVID-19 will be bonded forever and this virus will always be etched into our memories. We will remember the good and bad that happened and resulted from this time. And I know I will never forget the worrying, loneliness and longing for others that I felt.