+/-: A COVID Story


Bella Burgos

Isabella Burgos describes her Covid-19 story and the impact of her isolation.

As a long and peaceful winter break came to an end, I cleaned out my cluttered backpack with the previous semester’s worksheets and notes. And though my body felt weary, I was so excited to get a fresh start that I started to reorganize my room. I lit some candles without noticing that I couldn’t even smell them. I could faintly hear the panic in my mother’s voice while she sat in the room next to my grandmother’s and told my brother she had tested positive for COVID-19. Before we knew it, everyone in my apartment tested positive and it felt like I was living in a virus-infested bubble. And though my mother’s head was filled with financial concerns, I was worried about reliving that feeling of isolation that was experienced worldwide, last year. 

My experience was physically exhausting. Compared to my other family members who were also infected, I had it the easiest. We all had fairly similar symptoms but to different extremes. My mother could barely walk and my brother was frequently vomiting. I just had some headaches, loss of smell and appetite, and a scratchy throat. Though it was tiring, the physical symptoms were far easier to handle than the emotional ones.

Online school fulfilled my needs while my classmates and I were on lockdown in March of 2020. But that was because I knew I wasn’t going through it alone. It was comforting to know that not only my school was experiencing it, but also the entire world. While experiencing lockdown by myself, I felt lost with no sense of direction. To be confined in the first week of a new semester while others weren’t, felt unsettling. 

I tried strengthening some of my hobbies like knitting and playing the piano. But what do you do when you’ve sunk beyond boredom? Before you know it, you’re on your fifth season of “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” and start wondering what your cutie mark would be.

At first, having so much time on my hands was a blessing in disguise, but eventually, it became dreadful.  Thanks to our Dean of Students, Mr. Ray, managing school wasn’t much of a challenge. The true challenge was passing time. Frankly, getting more school work was stimulating and gave me a reason to get out of bed. A bed that soon felt like a chamber. 

“Positive” – a word that usually has an optimistic connotation caused me to feel quite the opposite.”

There was no escape, nowhere to go. The intrusive thoughts filled with fear about missing my friends, play rehearsal, and everything that gave me purpose. Everything that I cared for had suddenly disappeared because of one word on a sheet of paper.

As the days went by, reasons to get out of bed quickly diminished. Every day felt like I was sinking deeper into my white, crumpled bedsheets. If I looked to my left, there were tissues overflowing from a trash can. If I looked to my right, there’s my computer displaying messages that have been left on “delivered” for hours. Messages to people who are moving on with their lives and aren’t caged into a room.

Ultimately, it was embarrassing. Friends would ask to hang out and I’d have to be honest with them and say I was infected. People don’t look at you the same after you tell them that. There’s an assumption that you did something wrong or were walking around and carelessly spreading all your germs. I used to have the same outlook but now I’ve realized that it’s not always one person’s fault. In my case, I was infected by a family member and I couldn’t control that. I’m sure others had similar experiences.

After weeks of fatigue and recovery, I’ve become grateful for being able to see my friends, teachers, and to experience day-to-day life. I didn’t realize how much these things mattered to me. I got a glimpse into what it’s like to be physically and mentally alone, which is something I had never felt much of prior to having COVID-19. Yet, I’d like to reflect on the valuable things it taught me rather than the momentary losses. Now that I have returned to my new-normal life, I am ready to look forward and carry the lessons that having COVID-19 taught me.