If you are anything like me— someone who has had to leave behind a life to migrate to a completely different country— there will always be a part of you that stays at the place you once called home. No matter how much I fought to make America my home, in the past five years that I’ve resided here, I have always considered Brazil my home. There, I was raised by the two of the most courageous and loving women in the world: my aunt and my grandmother. Growing up, they were my role models. At every single moment of my life, they made sure to emphasize the importance of having faith and resilience during turbulent times.
At first, COVID-19 seemed to be a reality far removed from me. However, when it started rapidly spreading around the world, all I could do was wonder: “What about my family in Brazil?” As much as I worried about my mother, sister, brother and myself— who are all unfortunate enough to be a part of the high-risk group— I had the comfort of knowing that we were together. If anything were to happen we’d be able to care for each other. I tried to follow my aunt and grandmother’s wise teachings— to face the new normal as an opportunity to grow. Although I tried to process the information in a somewhat ‘healthy’ way, I was crushed by a never-ending wave of fear, guilt, and anxiousness whenever I came across news addressing the abrupt (and so far uncontrollable) spread of ‘the invisible threat’ in my home country. I feared the unknown and I felt guilty for not being there for those I loved. I was anxious about not knowing the day I would finally get the chance to see my family once again, without fearing the possibility of unknowingly harming by spreading the virus.
Barely even four months ago, the world was an utterly different place. As COVID-19 and preventing its spread has become the priority of everyone's lives, I’ve slowly begun to recognize the importance of valuing the simple things and moments that I had taken for granted before. What were seen as mere phone calls before are now the highlight of my day. Previous to the pandemic, phone calls were sometimes hard to regulate on a daily basis, as school and my AP and Honors classes kept me busy and stressed out for most of the day. But now, I can’t contain my excitement to talk and connect with my family in Brazil everyday. Hearing their reassurances that they are safe and healthy have brought back some peace that had been previously stolen by the bad news of rising coronavirus cases.
The borders are no longer what holds us apart. Now, the fear of the invisible threat of the coronavirus keeps us locked at home, waiting for the world to finally feel normal again. COVID-19 not only threatens our health, but it challenges our ideal of the often cherished ‘individualism’. Regarding the COVID-19 situation, there can no longer be the use of the word ‘me’— many of the individuals I’ve talked to have demonstrated more concern for their family members and friends, rather than putting themselves first.
Just like many others who are separated from their loved ones by thousands of miles, the distressing thought that two of the people I care about the most are out there in one of the most badly affected places by the coronavirus continues to rob my sleep, as well as each and every second I spend awake feeling the crushing weight of not being able to do much to change the current situation.
Hundreds of years from now, this pandemic will be remembered as something that drastically changed humanity. However, I believe that we will leave this chaos and cruise toward a world that cherishes collectivism over individualism. We will learn not to take a single day for granted, and to connect with other people beyond our screens. Most importantly, we will learn that just like this virus, our faith and hope that better days will come, as well as our love for those we care about, goes far beyond borders.
Written by: Mariana Gomes (Guest Contributor)
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