by Alyssa Masiewicz, 05/07/2020, Traverse City, MI

High School 9-12 Category

Before this global pandemic occurred, I never realized how lucky I was. I had two working parents. I got to go to school and be with my friends. I got to go to class and ask questions to teachers in person. I could leave my house without a mask and the fear of catching a virus that could kill me. I never realized how quickly things could turn upside down in a matter of weeks.

The last day of school was kind of blurry for me. Honestly, I was very confused and in a daze because I couldn’t accept the fact that COVID-19 was in Michigan, knowing it was only weeks until they discovered a case in Traverse City.

“Alyssa, did you hear the news?”

Everyone kept asking me that question over and over again. They were all ecstatic with the news of a three-week break that they didn’t know would soon turn into a two-month quarantine.

Some may have seen it as a blessing, but I saw it as a curse. My mother is a frontline worker at Munson Medical Center. She is a Radiologist Technician, so she does CAT scans on COVID-19 patients here in Traverse City. Due to the shortage of protective gear, my mother gets one mask. One. This is the amount all frontline medical professionals get. Now every time my mom goes to work, she is risking her health to protect the lives of others. I will never take medical professionals for granted again. They risk exposure and risk catching the virus for people they do not even know.

“Your Spain trip is in a month, are you excited?” is a question that I would’ve been asked by my mom every chance she got if it were not for the virus. Instead, she asks me, “the Stay-At-Home order is set to expire in about a month, are you excited?”

“Yeah, I am,” I say, trying to stay hopeful despite the constant reminder of the news that this virus is not going anywhere anytime soon.

In about a month from when this was written, I would’ve been on a plane heading for Madrid, Spain to stay with my exchange student for three weeks. Now, I don’t even know what lies ahead for next week. Things are constantly changing and evolving; new cases and deaths every day, new testing kits every week, and a new ‘promising’ vaccine every month. The truth is that we don’t know what will happen next week or next month. I will never take for granted the certainty of tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year.

After a week of rainy and cold weather, we finally had a sunny day with the temperatures in the high 60s. I could finally go outside and get out of the house for a few hours to relax. That feeling of relaxation disappeared when we got the call that told us that my grandma was admitted into the hospital with shortness of breath and loss of feeling in her left arm. She could not have any visitors during her stay at the hospital. My family and I sat waiting for another phone call, anything to tell us she was alright. We got that phone call, and thankfully, she was okay. She had another heart attack, and if it was serious enough it could’ve killed her and we would have not been able to say goodbye. Her kids and grandkids would’ve had to live with never having that chance to say goodbye to her. They would’ve never been able to have those last moments with her before she passed. I will never take the chance of saying goodbye for granted again.

Being able to ask questions to my teachers in person, to be able to see my friends and hang out with them, to be able to row with my teammates on the water, and to be able to go to the grocery store without a face mask are many things I have learned to never take for granted. One thing that everyone won’t take for granted again, is life without COVID-19.