Two of my cats sit near the front steps of my burned home.
FOUNTAIN INN, S.C. – I know this global pandemic isn’t about me – but, damn, does it feel personal.
In December, the dilapidated double-wide trailer I had called home for 21 years burned down. My mother and I had never had much, but, suddenly, all we did have turned to ash because of an electrical fire. Shortly after, my grandmother – the only surviving grandparent I had – fell ill with lung cancer. She passed away last month, peacefully and in her bed, with no knowledge of the worldwide panic that was beginning to brew.
Now, the internal chaos I have felt for months is matched by the rest of the world.
Honestly, I have been angry for months. I am mad for our country. I am mad for 7.5 billion people whose lives have been utterly upended by this crisis. I am angry because I feel so angry about my own circumstances.
I feel selfish for my anger because while people are dying from COVID-19 complications, I am young and healthy. My mother, at 62 years old with Type 2 diabetes and respiratory issues, is at risk but taking the necessary precautions to ensure she gets through this. She is cautious, anxious – as she should be. As we all should be.
Reconciling these two feelings of selfishness and anger, I now realize that both can rightfully ring true. I am allowed to be angry that COVID-19 has stolen my final months as a University of South Carolina student. I am allowed to be angry as I watch my peers return to healthy families in warm homes as I bounce around to find reliable Internet access.
I am even allowed to grieve for the people hurting across the world, right now, which has allowed me to finally grieve my losses.
In a completely unexpected turn of events, COVID-19 has forced me to return to my hometown and confront the sparse remnants of my home, a sight I had been trying my best to avoid since December.
When I finally stepped onto the brick steps that once led to my front door, I cried. I cried for a long time – for my home, for my mother and the world – and I finally felt myself softening, revisiting the person I was before my life made me so angry.