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— By Kerri-Ann Smith Ed.D.

As the world battle COVID-19, we take the time to share these reflections of a mother, professor, and wife concerning her firsthand experience examining the consequences of the virus from all 3 of her titles. These reflections provide us with a closer look at the realities of many people who have been directly affected by the Coronavirus. Though her reflections stem from a New Yorker’s perspective, these viewpoints are resonant with the global community, now embroiled in a battle against the monstrosity called COVID-19.

Reflection 1
Being inside gives time a new meaning, even in paradoxical ways. We used to reduce screen time to increase focus and now all we have is screen time. We spend time with family, but family takes up all our time. We have time away from work, but some are spending all that time working. Those who have no time to stay home are watching the time at work because the more time they spend around infected folks, the more they worry about the time they have left on earth. Then the people who are infected are wondering how much time they must wait to be tested. Once tested, they wonder how much time must pass before they get results. Results come and they wonder how much time they have left. Now the time with family ends and the time they took up before doesn’t seem so bad after all. {Sigh}. 

Those of us who had no time for anything before are trying to make time for those very things now. But one thing we are sure of is that the next time we get a chance to be in full control of our time, we will use it in productive ways. It’s good to reflect on time; it’s the one thing we can’t buy, no matter how much money we have or how many times we try. I’m happy we got a little time to learn such a timely lesson.

Reflection 2
Over the past few weeks, my freshman comp students have been very happy to be home. After a week to “recalibrate,” we resumed class and the most poignant, yet hilarious statement about their experiences this past week was, “I feel like I’m a criminal on death row, awaiting execution.” The irony of such a poetic statement isn’t lost on those of us who understand that while he speaks from a place of privilege—having never actually been on death row—he might have made the most profound statement about his fears about falling victim to COVID-19.

Reflection 3
My student texted me to say she was sorry for not submitting a paper—I had made the paper optional and extended the deadline indefinitely but she hadn’t seen—but she had been struggling with helping her family. “Nobody else speaks English,” she said, “and my grandfather just died.” I asked if she was in the same house. She was. She was right there making phone calls to a funeral home, while texting me to ask for grace…on a paper… for a grade… for school… 🤦🏾‍♀️. “He’d been coughing for a week but everybody was scared to take him to the hospital because we didn’t want him to die there. My grandmother is now coughing and I’m worried that I’ll be sick.” And she was texting me to ask for grace… on a paper… for a grade… for school. 🤦🏾‍♀️😔. Another one texted me yesterday panicking. She was sorry that she had overslept and missed class. She’s been working non-stop and even logged in to class while at work one day. I reminded her that yesterday was Sunday and I don’t take attendance anyway. 

This is what we’ve created in the midst of a crisis, just so life can “go on as normal.” These are adults… college students… imagine the 5-year-old who has your fifty thousand sheets to fill out and “submit” by a same-day deadline. What have we become?

Reflection 4:
Is it safe for Black peopleespecially mento go out in masks? #COVID19WhileBlack

Smith’s Family
Reflection 5
As the wife of an ICU nurse, I see the other side: The side where the kids wake up at 3 am screaming. The side where my five-year-old tries to hide her father’s keys so he won’t go to work because she doesn’t want him to “get coronavirus.” They have restless nights, and at 3 am the other day she said “what’s daddy’s favorite cake? I want him to have two slices because he’s working so hard because of this virus.” Every day when he comes into the house, she runs to the drawer and finds his vitamins. She hands them to him with a cup of water. That’s her contribution to help keep him well. 

I see the tired face that has worked a full shift—like worked, worked—and has come home but can’t enter the house until he has first gone to his area to shower and put his things away to ensure our safety. I see the silence—a haunting one—and I hear the stories that the news doesn’t report. In fact, COVID-19 patients were in his care long before the news ever started reporting it. Essential workers’ wives and husbands have to work virtually, too. Their kids have to go to virtual school, too. They need groceries replenished, too. Someone has to do it while they run to save those who are afflicted. It’s not like “normal” times. I think the children will pay for this, too, as they have real fears that they cannot express. 

As the sister of a serviceman, I understand fully well why frontliners in the military say “please don’t thank me for my service.” You see, they’d rather not go to war—most of them. They’d rather keep us safe in other ways. The same goes for essential workers. They didn’t “sign up” for war. They signed up to care. Under these conditions, they can’t just care, because survival is the name of their game. They’ve faced death but this, this isn’t the same. If it’s a war, then where’s the ammo? The troops are worn. If you really want to thank them for their sacrifice, PLEASE STAY HOME. The news show: New York has more victims than in any country! Country! Just. STAY. HOME. Their families thank you.

We will win the fight against COVID, however, we all must do our parts. STAY HOME. SOCIAL DISTANCED. HAND WASHED. FACE MASKED. Some ironic, but this is one of the only times a travel blog is suggesting this, so families of essential workers can rest assured and for us to have the opportunity to hit the open skies again. REALLY SOON, COVID’s impact will be weakened. That day is coming, and it is on the horizon.  

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