I noticed it two weeks before spring break. Our numbers in the classroom were dwindling and it felt like every day somebody else would be reported as absent. The teachers said it was this thing called COVID-19 and back then we didn’t think anything of it.
Back then those two words meant nothing to me and the only thing on my mind was our provincial basketball game the following week. As we showed up to practice that day, our coach sat us down and unfortunately told us our season would be getting postponed until further notice and likely cancelled due to COVID-19.
We were appalled and quick to anger. Our goals, hopes and all our efforts were slowly being erased, all because of two words. As we sat together, bitter, we thought that this was the worst that could happen. Looking back, tears touch my eyes because little did we know.
One of the first deaths in our province came from our school. From that moment, the pandemic solidified as real in my mind. It took away more than just the friendly custodian that I often liked to talk to whenever I saw him in the halls. The pandemic took away my confidence and my smile. Put on a mask. Stay six feet away. For someone who thrived off social energy, I felt like a zombie.
Despite my low energy levels, during online classes I kept my camara on, I constantly did my best to crack jokes, and I tried to recreate the atmosphere of what a normal classroom felt like. After school, I did my best to stay connected to my friends, reaching out and checking in on them. I just wanted things to feel normal again.
For me, the pandemic was both an opportunity and a lesson. It gave me the opportunity to get in shape, learn more about myself and grow. I took this time to enjoy more quality time with my family and appreciate life on a day-by-day basis. We were able to slow down our world and take a moment to breathe and cherish each other. We were able to love, heal and bond, understanding that times were uncertain, and no one knew when one day could become the last day.
As I continue to grow and learn, I also keep in mind the lessons the pandemic taught me. How to be resilient, stay true to myself and appreciate everything – my loved ones, my friends and especially my teachers for the joy and love they brought into our virtual classrooms during those trying times.
As I look back, I’ll also be looking forward to the future. As I said, we never know when one day could turn into the last, and the pandemic taught us that best. Hug your friends. Thank your teachers. Love your loved ones. And no matter what, remain hopeful and don’t give up.