So far, the United States has lost over 91,000 lives to COVID-19. That is (at least) 91,000 families who are hurting, 91,000 medical treatments that just weren’t enough. I am in no place to complain. However, I am in a place to be disappointed.
I am a rule follower. I have always been a rule follower. I would certainly never break rules set up to prevent behaviors that can be dangerous or life threatening. Right now, those kinds of rules have put the world on hold. Personally, I am sick of reading articles about how difficult it is to be home and how important self-care is and how it is so annoying to spend the entire day around your own children. At the same time, I am sick of reading articles about how great and steamy it is to be locked up with someone you met two weeks ago and how great it is to realize how good you are at art. I have gotten to a point where I feel incredibly trapped and have run out of the motivation I had in the beginning. I would write an article complaining about how inconvenient it is to be home, but the reality is that simply feels immoral.
My friends and I FaceTime and text regularly. We Netflix Party and make iMovies and do what we can to have fun without coming in contact with each other and putting ourselves and our families at risk. It’s been fun exchanging jokes and funny videos over text, but there is nothing like driving around on a warm night with your best friends–something we cannot do. While we have been exploring these distant ways to have fun, we pretty much assumed that everyone else was doing the same thing. We assumed that everyone else had cried over quarantine as much as we had. We assumed they have felt just as trapped as we have. We were wrong.
Over the past few weeks, I have seen countless friends, friend groups, and parties meet up and post on social media about how funny it is that they are cuddling up next to each other with a “social distancing” sticker over the picture they posted. It’s just so cute and tasteful.
My friends and I have tried to find new ways to connect. We have experimented and held it together as much as we can. While we have been doing this for our own safety and that of our families, we have also been doing for a much broader global cause. 91,000 people have died in the United States thus far and my only job is to stay home. When the people I surround myself with have cried due to boredom, loneliness, and missing loved ones, it hurts, but we do it anyway. We do it for the 91,000 American families who have suffered. The disappointing part is that some people don’t think these rules apply to them. The disappointing part is that some people have seemed to have forgotten about those 91,000 lives while I am sitting in my room staring at a wall, feeling too guilty to cry.
Maybe I am being dramatic. Maybe I should just break the rules. Maybe I should just have a few friends over. The issue is there is too much that is unknown about who carries this disease and who doesn’t. I am in love with someone who I haven’t seen in 10 weeks. Are there bigger issues I could have? Absolutely. But does it hurt nonetheless? Yes. Would I die if I saw this person? Most likely, no. The issue I am trying to present is not about how sad I am that I cannot see my loved ones, but how sad I am that this issue which was once a team effort, has now become half of the team’s effort.
It has been left up to the rule followers to try and save lives by staying home–the ones who can’t see their dads, grandmas, or best friends–not the ones who do it anyway. I’ve broken rules that I felt didn’t hurt anyone else to break, but it’s rather disappointing when rule breakers break rules that have been put in place to save lives. It’s the failure to follow the rules that may have cost this country a significant percentage of those 91,000 lives.
As we turn back towards a more liberal environment, it will become more and more important for the public to remember that the rules are not a personal choice or something to ignore. There is a calculated risk in regards to letting large numbers of people into your life–a calculated risk that affects more than just the people involved.
Abby Bermeo is a senior at Verona High School. This commentary was first published in the VHS newspaper The Fairviewer and is reprinted with permission here. You can read more student perspectives on the outbreak of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 in The Fairviewer.
Photo by Ashkan Forouzani on Unsplash
Abby—You have expressed yourself and our present situation/crisis perfectly. Continue to do the work that promotes life, responsibility and compassion for others. Even if some of those others are careless, misinformed or ignorant because everyone regardless of their reckless conduct deserves your compassion, perhaps even more so. Stay the course—we will still prevail together as a team and maybe pull along the weak links for life’s sake.
Congratulations on your well written article. You did an excellent job of explaining a difficult situation . I enjoyed your interesting insights toward the dilemma of students everywhere . You set a great example for our community and are a role model for all. Thanks