JERSEY CITY, NEW JERSEY
JERSEY CITY, NEW JERSEY
Kiwi Cardona formally known as Mary Bui is a New Jersey resident that works for and global environmental firm as an accountant. Her household consists of her husband, two female children (teen and infant) and her elderly parents in a small flat in Jersey.
Everyone has different coping mechanisms and each one of us are guilty of expressing our feelings through social media. Some of us take advantage of the time to be more productive and remain unfazed by the madness. At least that’s how I felt in the beginning. I thought I had control over the situation, and perhaps breeze through this unscathed.
When news of the virus hitting home broke out, reality quickly set in. Living in Jersey City and working in New York City, my husband and I knew that the impact of the virus will be overwhelming. If we are infected, we run the risk of getting the rest of the household sick. Especially my elderly parents. We knew the virus would spread like wildfire and it was only a matter of time for the state to order a shelter-in-place. And the idea of having to wait for the state to make a decision created so much anxiety. We no longer felt safe to commute and be around people during the morning rush. Anyone who’s ever been to New York City knows exactly what I’m talking about. Then one day, with pressure from most of the staff, our firm decided to allow us to work from home.
The following Monday, my workstation at home was completely set-up. I decided to rearrange my room so I can face the window and enjoy the natural light while I enjoy my morning coffee, as I start my “new normal”. It was day one. See, I had it all figured out, get the kids settled, make my coffee, and start working. Perhaps squeeze in a little yoga in the afternoon. I loved the idea of freedom and being able to multitask and get the most out of my day. The next two weeks involved zoom happy hours, workouts, trying out new recipes and baking, a lot. I had it all under control and I disliked people who constantly complained about being bored. Staying home and doing our part to “flatten the curve” made me feel adequate. Even though my husband is still required to show up for work, the thought of possible exposure never crossed my mind.
Since my husband is considered an essential worker, he is required to be at work all week. We both settled on the idea knowing that we are one of the lucky ones to have a job and a steady income during this difficult time. It was also comforting to know that his firm reduced the staffing by 5% in his department. It made us feel safer. We went on with our lives despite the uncertainties and feelings of anxiety.
Then finally, my idea of a “safe home” came crashing down. My husband received an email notifying him that his coworker is sick, and there’s a chance that he might have been exposed. There were no details to confirm that it was the virus, but we immediately took action. I set-up the extra bedroom for him to isolate for a few days, and cleaned and disinfected the entire house that same morning. I was a mess. I felt as though it was only a matter of time until one of us would fall ill. I felt stupid and ignorant for not imposing social distancing knowing that he could expose himself anytime while at work.
The self isolation was a moot point since we have been sharing the same bed, but we had to do it. Many things came through my mind during this time and I thought of my children and what would happen to them if I were to get infected. I also thought of my parents, knowing that they will not be able to survive this virus at their age. The anxiety was high and I cried a lot. I was exhausted managing the entire household, but I knew I had to force myself to keep going. Now is not the time to be depressed or even break down.
After a few days of what seemed like a wild dream, I reached out to my family and close friends. I opened up about my experience and how fortunate we are, at least for now. It also made me think that there are people out there who have it worse than us. And I try not to internalize what’s going on around us, but it’s hard not to. People are dying, losing loved ones, struggling to feed their families or just trying to find shelter. Knowing that I am limited to what I can do to help others, is crippling.
More than a month into this lockdown, I find myself feeling angry and sad at people’s behaviors, and how the leader of our nation is handling the situation. However, it is beyond my control. All I can do is focus on my family, stay healthy mentally and emotionally, and find ways to be charitable. We need to be kind to one another and keep our humanity intact, because this too shall pass.
By Jason Heil COVID-19 has changed me and I don’t even know the extent of it yet. I sure don’t know how I’m going to navigate coming out this pandemic.
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