I like to listen to this public access radio station every morning. Back in December, they were interviewing people who lived in Wuhan when the virus first appeared. I heard stories of how people in Wuhan were struggling, how entire families were getting sick and how some of their loved ones were even dying. It was really awful and there were some horrifying stories— but I never thought that the virus would come here. I live in Great Neck, Long Island. We’re about thirty minutes away from Manhattan. We always hear of these other epidemics that never reach us. As the virus started to approach the United States around January and February, it was like we were all on the Titanic. Most of us were just enjoying everyday life without realizing the full extent of what was about to hit us.
My family actually went out to watch a Celine Dion concert right before everything went into lockdown— little did we know that that was the last time we would have the chance to do something like that for a long time. Also, just one week before lockdown, my daughter had her sweet sixteen party. It was a really wonderful event— we went to a restaurant and then we went back home to celebrate with her friends. Looking back, I’m really glad we did that. I remember going to Costco to buy some macaroons for the party. I only had this one small box of macaroons in my shopping cart, when most people shopping that day had shopping carts that were loaded with food and supplies and detergent and everything. So I just wondered, “maybe something is going on right now,” and decided that I should probably be stock up right after my daughter’s party. But by the time I got to the supermarket, everything like ground meat and things like that were all out of stock, so I just bought a chicken and cut it into portions. I thought I was relatively okay, but then I checked my inventory and realized that I really wasn’t.
The reason why my husband and I have to be really careful is because we are old parents with young children. I have four children, and my youngest son is eight years old. My husband also has pretty poor health, so when I heard these stories of multiple people in families dying, right away I imagined that if things got worse, these stories could become about us. I thought of the worse-case scenario, where my children could become orphans, and I just fell into a bout of anxiety and depression.
In addition to that, my father-in-law passed away around two weeks ago. He was in a nursing home in New Jersey, he was already really old and in the past few years his health had deteriorated so we didn’t expect him to live for that much longer. There were cases of the Coronavirus in his nursing home, so he was self-isolating in his room, when all of the sudden we heard that he was in the hospital. His heart was beginning to fail, and when they brought him to the hospital, he tested positive for the Coronavirus. He eventually passed away in the hospital. It’s hard to say if he passed away from the Coronavirus or from his other health problems.
I have to say other people are much stronger than I am. I know doctors and nurses and doctors who are working on the frontlines, and a lot of my friends are able to go to stores and remain calm for their families. I feel like I have been immobilized by fear.
I’ve found some really kind people who are willing to go out and shop for me, so I’ve been doing a lot better psychologically. I also have a lot of bone aches and problems with my joints, so my kids have taken up a lot of the housework, which I really appreciate. They really stepped up and began doing the dishes, cleaning the kitchen, mopping the floor, ironing, washing laundry, pretty much anything related to cleaning. My family and I are also Christian, so every Sunday morning at 9:30am, our whole family will sit in our living room and watch the church service.
We are really trying to continue on and live through this pandemic in the best way possible.
Written by: Natasha Leong