By Whitney Sides, Editor-in-Chief
How long can the human heart be stretched to employ empathy when the supply is exhausted?
How many more months can humans be responsible for their own entertainment before another corny generation of sovereign citizens is born out of boredom?
I was tasked with making this personal, so I guess we can begin at the start.
To borrow a quote from Jenna Marbles, life (in isolation) is short but also like terribly and insufferably long.
In the first week of March, there were rumblings of leaving campus to finish the Spring semester out at home. Even then, it seemed far-fetched. But less than a week later, I walked into University Hall to present a group project and never set foot on UAB’s campus as a student ever again.
Two months later, I watched my own college commencement, wearing an old Motorhead tee-shirt in my living room. After my name was read, I shut my laptop screen and walked into my daughter’s bedroom to lie back in a bean bag and stare at her light machine that projected stars in the dark across the ceiling.
You know life isn’t going as great as it could be when you find yourself dissociating intensely while staring into mirrors like you’ve become Zach Braff in Garden State.
It’s now been three months since I have walked into a grocery store, dropped my daughter off at school, seen my friends, or hugged my parents.
Secondly, imagine people more complexly.
I had cancer back in 2016. I beat it by 2018. I completed 4 rounds of radiation and two cycles of immunotherapy. If I die of a stupid virus, I am gonna be pissed.
Please feel free to engrave that as my epitaph.
My father and mother both have serious conditions too, so I stand in their yard with my mask on and talk to them once or twice a week. They keep a chair for me and my daughter right off the porch for our visits.
I miss hugging my dad most of all.
He is such a gentle and kind father. His hugs have served as a calming force in my life for over two decades.
When public health officials first encouraged us to stay at home, I embraced it as much as one could. I stocked up on groceries, I gathered supplies and I prepared my family to be in for a while.
What I couldn’t possibly prepare for is missing the physical touch of those I love.
I cry when I think of how long it might be before I hug my Dad again.
I feel like this is when I could use it the most. We could actually all use a hug from my dad right now.
Something that has brought everyone together during this is our lionizations of frontline workers, especially those in healthcare. But damn, I miss my sister.
She is a nurse.
This is great for the world in general and all the lives she impacts at the hospital where she works 12 hours a day, but selfishly not so great for me.
She is my best friend.
We talk on FaceTime several times a day, but it is not the same.
We both recently graduated college in the same month.
I miss being able to be close to her. She is a great aunt, and I can’t imagine how hard it is for her to be physically separated from my daughter.
And that is nothing compared to those I’ve interviewed recently who have lost loved ones in the pandemic. They’ll never feel that touch again. What a massive, gaping void in millions of lives.
Like I said before, we as humans are trained to depend on those we love in dark times. It’s proving not so easy for those who are maintaining social distancing.
But we do it anyway, because it is the right thing to do and it really and truly saves lives.
When I see other family and friends on Facebook post conspiracy theory nonsense and misinformation on Facebook, I teeter between burning anger and crippling despair.
The death toll is over 100,000 in the U.S. and growing. It’s real. It’s disingenuous and evil to claim otherwise.
Just because your human brain isn’t elastic enough to deal in abstract problems on a scale such as this DOES NOT MEAN IT IS NOT REAL.
You’re doing yourself a disservice and putting lives in danger each and every day you continue with that delusion.
Some of us have sacrificed to keep you safe. The least you can do is get over yourself for a few minutes a day and wear a mask in public.