In the middle of a pandemic, losing prom and graduation can look small next to the onslaught of COVID-19 upon the world.
I mean people are dying from coronavirus, and here I am like, ‘Oh I can’t celebrate my 18th birthday.’ I didn’t want to feel bad about it because of what everyone else is going through… like I’m putting my problem over someone else’s.”
“It’s hard to find [out] if what you’re feeling is right.”
“I have a journal that I write in. It’s kind of a reminder of just how much the world has changed. I looked back at some of the earlier pages that I started at the beginning of the year, and it baffled me a little bit, how different the world is right now.”
“The goals that I had for myself have fundamentally changed just because of the situation.”
“We were like, Okay wow this is actually a really serious thing. Everything’s going to be different. Are they going to close airports? Are they going to close down states? We just had no idea, and we were kind of scared but at the same time we were kind of laughing about it, happy at the fact that we didn’t have to go back to school… It was a mix of excitement but also fear at the same time, using the excitement to mask that fear.”
It all accumulated so quickly. It wasn’t one moment that was like, oh my god, this virus is real. It was like, this is the most insane situation that I will probably ever see in my life. The fact that my girlfriend got coronavirus, I lost my job, my dad lost his job, and the learning situation completely changed.
It wasn’t one moment so much as it was everything all at once.”
Everything at once. Their class — dubbed the “Class of Corona” by some — switched to virtual classrooms, drove through their graduation, and grew all too familiar with the word cancelled. On top of what came with a senior year cut short, they had to manage the tolls this pandemic took on their personal lives and the effects it had on the world.
Alan’s family felt the forces of COVID-19 in multiple forms. He and his mother both lost their jobs in a floundering economy that led to the highest unemployment rate since the Great Depression. Normally, they don’t have problems paying the bills, but this time around they had to call their utility providers and landlord, among others, and ask for an extra month of payment deferment.
Alan realized the scope of the virus after hearing from his family in Mexico City, who were quarantined and facing the same fears he saw in his own state. His uncle, who already had several health issues, passed away after contracting COVID-19.
You wake up to the fact that you could lose a family member or friends… I just had to mature in a way that I couldn’t think as a kid anymore. I had to think as an adult now.”
The growing spread of COVID-19 poses greater risks for some more than others. Edom’s mother has an auto-immune disease, so even as restrictions loosened in Texas, Edom and her family needed to remain distanced.
In late May the country’s attention shifted from COVID-19 to the death of George Floyd, shining a light on the deep-rooted issue of police brutality against Black Americans. Edom, who founded and led the Black Student Union at MHS, wanted to get involved but could not fulfill the in-person role because of the risk of getting her mother sick. Instead, she and her siblings fundraised, signed petitions, and spoke out on social media to do everything they could behind the screen.
I can’t really go out as much as I see my peers go out. Public areas are still more dangerous. I’m more scared to come home with something. It could really affect us differently than another family.”