2020 just keeps getting better and better doesn’t it? The year of 2020 is like an old, washed-up former Hollywood star who is far beyond their prime but still getting Botox and snorting cocaine to be able to fit in (stay awake) at the A-Lister parties. It’s like, oh honey, please take a seat already and let’s move on.

This year seems to have brought the world to its knees. We’re currently in the midst of a pandemic due to COVID-19, which, aside from currently being incurable and also fatal to some, also comes along with a lot of extra baggage. Hospitals and staff are overwhelmed. Domestic violence is on the rise in some places. People’s mental health is suffering. Some families are stuck between choosing to risk their health by working or not bringing home enough money to continue to sustain themselves. It’s a lot to deal with. While I’m fortunate enough in some aspects to be able to work from home (it’s no walk in the park, see previous posts), I. Am. Stressed. Pile on top of that, I had quite the scare for a couple of weeks, and maybe sharing my experience will encourage some of you to think about the impact of your actions. This is, of course, not an aim to judge or blame, I’ll be the first to tell you I’m not perfect and I’ll never be, I’m just saying it happened to me and could have very well been any one of you. 

As our state began to open back up and relax guidelines related to minimizing exposure and transmission of COVID-19, a couple of friends and I, literally two friends and myself, decided to get together at my house to relax and watch what we call “ratchet tv” (reality shows with people acting a whole ass like they have absolutely no home training). We hadn’t been able to hang out for so long because of the pandemic and we just wanted to try to get back to some sense of normalcy, whatever that is now. Later that night, one friend mentioned that she had the sniffles, like the beginning of a summer cold. We didn’t really think anything of it. A couple of days later, even though her symptoms were just those that you’d associate with a common cold, nothing serious or alarming, she decided to get tested for COVID-19 because she just had a nagging feeling that wouldn’t go away. About two days after that, she told us that she’d tested positive for COVID-19. 

I’m aware that this virus is not fatal to everyone who contracts it, as a matter of fact, the fatality rate is really low, but still, I can’t even begin to describe all of the feelings I had from the moment I was notified until the moment I received my test results. Stressed doesn’t even begin to describe it all, because guess what else, since I felt like “okay things don’t seem to be that serious anymore, the state is opening back up and those decisions are made by people including health officials who know what they’re doing”, I’d also hung out with others since being in contact with the friend who was unknowingly infected. It was always in groups of 10 or less, but yet and still. Then, had I inadvertently exposed my children? And since I co-parent with someone in a separate household, what about their family—were they exposed to the virus too from being around my children? It was both scary and stressful to think about. It was nerve-wracking to completely isolate myself from everyone as I waited for the test results. I did reach out to everyone that I had been in contact with, just as our friend did, to put them on alert to quarantine and get tested. But here’s the thing, and this is part of what makes dealing with this virus so difficult, it had been so many days since potential exposure that the people I had hung out with had also gone on about their lives and had come into contact with others. You do the math. Imagine how many people that could have impacted. 

Thankfully, the virus wasn’t transmitted to the other two of us that were together that initial night. Maybe the distancing helped (all three of us were sitting at least six feet apart while we were watching tv, no masks of course because we were in the house and just didn’t think we needed them), who knows. The point is though, anybody can have this virus and you wouldn’t even know it—some people have it and just haven’t begun showing symptoms yet, then others have no symptoms at all, but by the time you find out, it’s too late if you’ve been in close contact with others. Don’t make the same mistake that I did, getting this false sense of confidence as you observe your state’s response to the virus and also in thinking that because you’re with trusted friends or family that you don’t still need to be cautious.

Hopefully, we as humans will learn some compassion in all of this. It’s not just about you, you may not like or even know everyone around you, but as cliché as it sounds, we’re all in this together. As you try to keep yourself and your family safe in the middle of all of this, please also think about others. Your behavior can have a widespread impact; while you, personally, may not suffer greatly if you should happen to get this virus, the person next to you, whether it’s your child, your parents, your spouse or significant other, the person who doesn’t have a choice other than to continue working throughout this, could potentially die from it.