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Life and Love

COVID-19 changed my plans. It probably changed yours too.

More thoughts on living through a pandemic.

When are things going to go back to normal?

I had this thought almost every second of the day the week we went into lockdown. Greene county shut its doors on March 24. My life was a wreck.

On March 23, my family had to put our beloved dog, Wetzyl, down. She was almost 15. She was my very best bud. It was also my mom’s birthday and national puppy day. I had to stay off Instagram because everyone was talking about quarantining with their pets. I cried for a solid three days. My house still feels empty without her.

Four days later, I was laid off from my student worker job at my university. I understood why it had to happen. I attend a publicly funded school, and when the funding disappears, so do jobs. My understanding and my forgiveness didn’t stop the “How am I going to make money?” thoughts.

Then came the news of graduation being postponed, flights to New York City canceled, the Hamilton show I was going to attend pushed back, and it just kept going and going and going.

It was, without a doubt, my week from hell.

It physically hurt.

Those three words seem dramatic when I type them out, but I’m trying to validate the experiences I am going through without washing them down. That third week of March kicked off months of discomfort, sadness, and intense fear of the unknown (which I already had, so it was amped up to the max). Each day seemed to welcome a new fear on the news. I had to look away, but in doing so, I was afraid I’d miss out on life-saving advice.

It was horrifying. I know someday we will look back on this pandemic with lessons learned, but this is still raw. It still hurts. My stomach writhes and sinks every time I wake up and remember what’s going on.

The pain that stemmed from that third week of March, and the weeks after, is still lingering in my everyday life, because things haven’t gone back to normal. When they do, I will emerge from this pandemic bubble, along with everyone else, a completely different person. It’s going to take a while to heal from the damage, even for those of us who have been spared from the virus.

A bright side, somewhere. Even if it’s small.

You’ve seen the good news shared. It’s welcomed with open arms these days. It’s these moments of light within humanity that I cling to.

We can keep going. We must keep going.

For me, that looks like a plan I didn’t spend years dreaming up. It’s a plan I wasn’t sure about until it was right in front of me screaming, “This is it!! I promise!!!

I’m going to grad school. I have a graduate assistant position and a part-time internship at a nonprofit I adore. These opportunities showed up at almost the exact same time one week after I was laid off, and I’m able to do both. I start classes on June 8. I will be done in fall 2021.

I’ll walk for my undergraduate degree on October 18, 2020. It’s the Sunday afternoon of homecoming weekend. I have a feeling I will cry.

I’ll go back to New York someday with my momma. We have refunds and potential dates for the future.

Hamilton will be rescheduled. It’s also coming in movie form this summer.

I have so many videos of Weztyl to remind me of her sweet soul. I do wish we could still snug on the couch and go on car rides.

Day by day.

I am still incredibly anxious, though it’s getting better day by day. Greene county is slowing opening up. I can cautiously be near the people I love who I don’t live with.

It seems like this threat will be with us for a while, but at the same time, I can’t ignore the trees that are bursting with bright green leaves. I can’t ignore the fuchsia peonies sitting in a vase on my kitchen counter. I can’t ignore the smell of summer rain and the hopes of a future that won’t be taken for granted after this passes.

We can keep going. We must keep going.

Someday this will be a bad memory.

Someday this will be remembrance of the places light poured in anyway.

Until then, I’ll wait. And I’ll let plans change.

By laurenstockam

Lauren is graduate student at Missouri State University in Springfield, MO.

One reply on “COVID-19 changed my plans. It probably changed yours too.”

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