Chicago Public Schools student reflects on the death and life changes of the pandemic and finds hope

This post previously appeared on The White Rhino blog.

The day after Halloween in 2019, I came home from a long day at school. I sat near my grandpa for a while, who was pretty sick and was lying in his bed. I asked how he was and he said he was fine, but deep down I knew he wasn’t. I headed upstairs to freshen up only to hear the wailing screams of my aunt. I quickly headed back downstairs and he was gone before I knew it. The only thing I knew was that things would never be the same ever again. 

Fast forward to the beginning of 2020, a year we all intended to be great; instead, it turned out to be the worst year we could ever imagine. On every news channel, the anchors would talk about the outbreak of Covid-19, and how rapidly it was spreading. The bold red letters “a virus,” “a disease,” or sometimes even a “killer machine” at the bottom of the TV screen clearly emphasized how bad it had gotten over time. I still remember the terror in my mom’s eyes when she first found out; and, she immediately told my dad over the phone.

My dad didn’t think too much of it at first, but that is until he came back from New York City feeling sick. It was just a fever, words I would soon regret saying as he felt more and more sick over time. The sickness was so sobering that it made him lose his appetite, his smell, his taste, and feel total weakness.

On the other hand, my mom was as tired-looking as a wilted lettuce. She took on the responsibility of taking care of everything, including my dad, us, and my grandmother. No one was allowed to be near one another just to prevent any of us from getting sick, especially our grandmother. 

Being under one roof, we did our best to quarantine from one another, but it still spread. My dad’s condition got so bad that we eventually had to take him to the hospital along with my grandmother who felt extreme fatigue.

This was the worst feeling ever.

The house felt so hollow without them. We weren’t allowed to see them or meet them in person due to Covid restrictions. It was my first time seeing my dad hit rock bottom through that one Facetime call we made to him. I felt my eyes burning and a tight knot in my throat that I couldn’t seem to swallow away. It was hard keeping in touch with my grandmother as our only hope was through that one cell phone from one of the nurses that was working there. Sometimes they would pick up, other times they wouldn’t. I remember her telling me, “I don’t like it here,” and I couldn’t do anything but listen to her faint voice. At the moment, I didn’t know it would be the last time I would ever talk to her. My dad got better and ended up coming home. 

I was like a broken glass that could never be fixed nor be filled ever again.

Emotionally and physically, I was like a broken glass that could never be fixed nor be filled ever again. It reminded me of the incident that took place 6 months ago. It reminded me of how helpless I was, how incapable I was, and how weak I was; however, I knew I couldn’t let this get to me. I had to accept the things in front of me instead of shutting down on my family. I had to take on some of the responsibilities and be the backbone for my parents in this horrible situation.

I eventually let go of all the pain and the feelings of fault so that when I look back, I look at all the happy memories we had. In tough times like these, I was able to face all my difficulties; above all, it was very hard but never impossible. This made me feel stronger than ever. Sometimes things will never be the same, but the best thing to do is to keep moving and to be strong.

Photo by dylan nolte on Unsplash

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Prabsimarn Kaur

Prabsimarn Kaur is a high school student in the Chicago Public Schools.