audio by km

Sorted by: Theme: Grief & Change

Audio Story by Kakule

English Translation

COVID or Corona brought a lot of problems to the whole world because it was something we have never seen before. It was something that for the first time globally, even White, Asian and Black people all had the same problem. It killed people from America, Africa, Asia and many other places. It brought problems to people who used to work, go to school or go shopping. All of sudden everything came to a stop. Companies and work stopped. Shops and stores were closed. Schools had to be closed and people had to now stay at home. Those who went to work or school I really got worried about them,especially parents. We were asking, are they going to come back with Coronavirus? I know many people who lost their family members and friends. We have never seen this kind of death. White people died in thousands. Africans also died in thousands. The whole world there was just too much death. We did not know what to do and this was all because of COVID-19. There was not even medication at the beginning, that came much later along with the vaccines. By that time the whole world was really hurting, moaning and crying. People lost their jobs and to date some have never got their job back. A lot of countries’ economies went down, food was not there because there was no money to buy. You could not travel, the ones who were in Africa could not come to America and places like Australia too. Jobs were stopped, business died, food prices went up and people were shocked and surprised. If anything ever happens again we ask the government to help us make sure we do not go through something like this again and to make sure there is enough food for everyone and medication so we don’t face this again. 

Swahili Transcription

COVID au Corona ilileta matatizo mengi kwa dunia nzima kwa sababu ni jambo ambalo hatujawahi kuona hapo awali. Ni jambo ambalo kwa mara ya kwanza duniani, hata watu Weupe, Waasia na Weusi wote walikuwa na tatizo sawa. Iliua watu kutoka Amerika, Afrika, Asia na maeneo mengine mengi. Ilileta matatizo kwa watu waliokuwa wakifanya kazi, kwenda shule au kwenda kununua. Ghafla kila kitu kilisimama. Makampuni na kazi zilisimamishwa. Maduka na maduka yalifungwa. Shule zililazimika kufungwa na watu walilazimika kukaa nyumbani. Wale walioenda kazini au shuleni nilipata wasiwasi sana juu yao, haswa wazazi. Tulikuwa tunauliza, watarudi na Coronavirus? Najua watu wengi waliopoteza wanafamilia na marafiki zao. Hatujawahi kuona kifo cha aina hii. Wazungu walikufa kwa maelfu. Waafrika pia walikufa kwa maelfu. Dunia nzima kulikuwa na kifo kingi sana. Hatukujua la kufanya na hii yote ilikuwa kwa sababu ya COVID-19. Hakukuwa na hata dawa mwanzoni, ambayo ilikuja baadaye sana pamoja na chanjo. Wakati huo dunia nzima ilikuwa inaumia sana, ikilalamika na kulia. Watu walipoteza kazi zao na hadi leo wengine hawajapata tena kazi zao. Uchumi wa nchi nyingi ulishuka, chakula hakikuwepo kwa sababu hapakuwa na pesa za kununua. Usingeweza kusafiri, wale ambao walikuwa Afrika hawakuweza kuja Amerika na maeneo kama Australia pia. Ajira zilisimamishwa, biashara ikafa, bei ya vyakula ilipanda watu wakashangaa na kushangaa. Iwapo kuna lolote likitokea tena tunaiomba serikali itusaidie kuhakikisha hatupitii kitu kama hiki tena na kuhakikisha kuna chakula cha kutosha kwa kila mtu na dawa ili tusikabiliane na hili tena.

Written Story by Win Win Maw

I am Win Win Maw, a dedicated individual who has called the United States home for more than  7 years. However, my journey has been marked by the challenges of managing diabetes, a  condition I have been coping with for the past 24 years. It requires constant vigilance and careful  management of my health.

In May 2019, on an ordinary day, I began experiencing troublesome symptoms. A running nose  and a persistent cough seemed to have taken hold of me. Concerned about my well-being, I  decided to seek answers and find relief for my discomfort.

On that fateful evening of April 2nd, around 10 o’clock, I found myself immersed in browsing the  New York News website. Amidst the vast array of news articles, one topic stood out: Covid.  Although my voice was hoarse, a result of my ongoing symptoms, I couldn’t resist reading more  about this novel virus that was starting to impact the world.

Little did I know that the unfolding Covid situation would dramatically alter my life. The global  pandemic forced me to make significant changes in my daily routine, mainly revolving around  staying home and taking all the necessary precautions to protect myself and my loved ones.  Wearing a mask even at home became a norm, as I lived in close proximity to my husband and  son.

This has been an incredibly challenging time for me. The fear of contracting the virus and the  uncertainty surrounding my health condition have been ever-present. Navigating through these  uncertain times has required strength, resilience, and unwavering determination.

Amidst these trials, I decided to visit a clinic in the hopes of finding some answers and relief  from my worsening symptoms. To my dismay, the chief physician informed me that my  condition was critical and that hospitalization was necessary. Thus, on June 13th, I found myself  admitted to the hospital, where a dedicated team of healthcare professionals would closely  monitor my health.

It was particularly distressing to recall the news report from New York News that I had come  across on April 2nd. The article highlighted the alarming escalation of the Covid situation, with a  rising death toll and a significant increase in cases across the United States. The gravity of the  situation weighed heavily on my mind as I lay in the hospital bed, fighting my own battle.

The impact of Covid on my health became more evident as the doctors diagnosed me with  pneumonia and additional upper respiratory complications. Each passing day felt like an uphill  battle, leaving me exhausted and drained. Not only was my health deteriorating, but my  concerns extended to my younger brother and sister, who also fell ill during this challenging  period.

Fever episodes were an all-too-familiar occurrence for me. Whenever my body temperature  spiked, I sought refuge in the emergency department, hoping for relief from my pneumonia and other respiratory issues. However, the situation seemed to persist, and my concerns grew with  each passing day.

The local clinic I relied on for medical attention was overcrowded, making it increasingly difficult  to receive the proper care and attention I so desperately needed. It became apparent that the  healthcare system was under immense strain, trying to accommodate the growing number of  Covid cases and the subsequent complications that arose.

Adding to my worries, my beloved son began displaying worrisome symptoms. High fever and  discomfort compelled us to rush him to the hospital. The waiting game began as we awaited the  test results, praying fervently that his condition was not severe. The doctors decided to conduct  an ultrasound, which revealed potential abnormalities in his lungs. We eagerly awaited the  chest X-ray results to confirm the diagnosis, while additional tests were ordered to gain a better  understanding of his condition.

Despite the personal challenges I faced, I found solace in the fact that I had received the Covid 19 vaccine.

I understand that there have been various challenges and difficulties in the country. It is  important to support and provide assistance to those who are affected. If someone needs help,  they can seek assistance from the relevant authorities or organizations. In 2020, during the forth  waves of COVID-19, the situation was quite severe. People should follow the guidelines and  receive medical treatment at the designated healthcare centers. Both physical and mental well being should be taken into consideration. My mental trauma had worsened because of my  husband also got heart attack after one month of his post Covid . I was so tired too taking care  of him as well as my Covid also was very bad . My mental trauma is still bad because of  consequences of Covid.

Artwork Story by Torea Frey

Words Fail

Written Story by Tom

It is it 

I had Covid twice

I was more dead than alive

pale gasp walk to grocery

cooties consuming me

life fading lungs

I dreamt of stairwells

It’s done, the grandmas are in graves

masks in storage, we move on

no

its to remember and be kept

hurt stories and names

I love you all, kneel and cry

in a field of tranquil flower

my cup of mourning is full

among the rest

on this bus ride

I don’t want to be alone

sit next to me

and we will hold behind masks

I come home from work at a convalescent home

people die constantly

stand here and hold a hand

as it grows cold

watch the beeps diminish

again, cease breath and slide

its not time yet to cry

we have to go on weaving

we held death and shoved on

a mourner, with frown and bouquet

look at us on the bus

a forest away with lilac of death among

we should come to each other

sit with, tell your grasp of the raft

 

a vanishing point

I went among prairies

to mourn better,

bring cloth for graves

on hard roads

I went away with seekers

slept rough and fought truth

where I wanted to walk was all water

when I wanted talk, a bus bench

so I willow in vanish sorrow

among hay feather glass birds

you died in Covid

and we leave that to here

arms draw inward

geese weave reeds

honk and make silly the morose

hands sift loss among moon wool

inward we mourn

as lamps close

Written Story by Terry Waiganjo

My pandemic experience was rough but super rewarding at the same time. The pandemic hit  when I was about to finish my masters degree. I had a part time job during the day and I would  study in the evenings. I was living alone. When the pandemic hit, I lost my job as a local NGO  researcher as the program I was working for lost its funding. At the same time, my school shut  down and we later resumed online classes despite my difficulty in learning virtually. My brother  and I decided to live together to cut costs as we both lost our jobs. We were far from any close  relative who could help us and we knew we didn’t want to move around and spread the virus  around.

What came out of this who experience was a text book of lessons, mistakes, and more lessons.

Technology played a crucial role in keeping people connected. While physical distancing was  necessary, virtual platforms allowed individuals and communities to stay in touch. Video calls,  online events, and social media became the primary means of communication for my brother  and I. We could even video call each other in the same house if one of us feared exposure to  COVID-19. Some friendships grew stronger as individuals reached out and provided support to  my brother and I during difficult times. We got a text from our landlord saying there was a  Jewish community in our neighborhood who were looking for families without an income or  food. They were to prepare several meals to last a week and deliver to our door. All we needed  to do is sign up online. This was amazing. We have delicious food, some we havd never tried,  and we ate for weeks. They even delivered when we had not finished the previous meals. The  sense of unity mostly from complete strangers shocked me most because I was previously  unaware of peoples kindness.

Self-discovery and personal growth was a huge lesson for me. I never knew I could be a home  body. I never likes spending anytime alone by myself let alone in my house. The pandemic  forced people me to adapt to new circumstances, leading to self-reflection and personal growth.  With more time spent alone or in isolation, I had the opportunity to delve deeper into my own  thoughts and emotions. I discovered new hobbies, developed resilience, and gained a greater  understanding of my own strengths and weaknesses.

I missed my home land Kenya even more in the pandemic. I was homesick almost every day.  Certain images, events, and sounds from the pandemic will likely stay with people for years to  come. The sight of empty streets, healthcare workers on the front lines, made me think about  how things were back home. My friends would tell me how things were almost normal at home.  There was curfew but parties would go on restaurants and bars were open, My friends were  having more fun it seemed and comparing that life with the emptiness of the streets of Oregon  will stay with me. Overall, the pandemic challenged individuals and communities in  unprecedented ways. While it undoubtedly caused hardship and disruption, it also highlighted  the resilience and adaptability of humanity. It showed me people can surprise you and show  support in the most amazing ways. I pray that unity and commitment to protect each other  never goes away.

Artwork Story by Sophia G-Halvorson

Medicine Spirit, ethereal being as essential as oxygen,

Your evil eye deflects the wafting danger lurking in the who-knows-where,

Almost every where.

Audio Story by Simon Machozi

English Translation

This disease was a bad one because I can say it killed a lot of people, especially the ones who were coughing [a lot]. I was also among people who were coughing. I had to use traditional medicine to treat this COVID and after some time it went away. What I also know is that there was a time when people came knocking at our door and the question they would ask is whether there is anybody who is sick with COVID in the house and we always told them no. These people also came into the house, talked to us and asked questions and then left. What I also know is that COVID killed a lot of people including a family friend that I knew so well. The other thing is that I am not so sure if this disease called Corona is finished or gone. I’m still not certain.

Swahili Transcription

Ugonjwa huu ulikuwa mbaya kwa sababu naweza kusema uliua watu wengi hasa waliokuwa wakikohoa. Pia nilikuwa miongoni mwa watu waliokuwa wakikohoa. Ilinibidi nitumie dawa za kitamaduni kutibu COVID na baada ya muda iliisha. Ninachojua pia ni kwamba kuna wakati watu walikuja kugonga mlango wetu na swali ambalo wangeuliza ni ikiwa kuna mtu yeyote ambaye ni mgonjwa na COVID ndani ya nyumba na tuliwaambia hapana. Watu hawa nao waliingia ndani ya nyumba hiyo, wakazungumza nasi na kutuuliza maswali kisha wakaondoka. Ninachojua pia ni kwamba COVID iliua watu wengi akiwemo rafiki wa familia ambaye nilijua vizuri. Jambo lingine ni kwamba sina uhakika kama ugonjwa huu uitwao Corona umeisha au umeisha. Bado sina uhakika.

Written Story by Sierra

Archived

This is what it feels to be archived.
Tucked away in the dusty basement
in a filing system few remember
existing out of circulation

This is what it feels to be archived.
I haven’t caught the plague
it hasn’t killed me yet
but for now, I am a faded artifact
they want out of sight

This is what it feels to be archived.
To those with their heads in the ground
I am a emblem of their ignorance
a keepsake of their wrongdoings
a time capsule of their broken promises

This is what it feels to be archived.
And yet,
I will not let them ignore me.

Written Story by Anonymous

I am a nonbinary physician of color. I actually worked for the state governmental COVID 19 response here in Oregon, as my first job in this state.

I felt tremendous responsibility and pride in doing the work I did when I did it, because  there was an acknowledgement of community stake, partnership and investment with the way  we did our work. Blue state vs. Red Federal policy clashes somewhat helped with the ability to  do the work, above and beyond what the CDC was publishing in those days. We were in a group  of about 18 physicians and scientists writing policy and guidance from a variety of lived  experiences. I contributed heavily as a physician of color and made some of my first few friends  in Oregon working in POC predominant teams as the scientific liaison to state based community  engagement work. I was publicly shamed and ridiculed on the internet by trolls and those at  odds with the state’s policies that emphasized community action and non- pharmacologic  interventions to keep everyone safe from a new, scary and unpredictable threat. Yet through all  this, I persisted.

I ended up leaving my position in early 2022 when after more than a year of conflicting  policies, shifting narratives, the politicized CDC influence on state-based policy making was too  great and overrun by individualistic public health policies to an airborne pathogen. For  something as contagious as COVID-19 and with ongoing high mortality and even higher  morbidity, an individualistic approach just serves to marginalize the few- the disabled, the  elderly, the chronically ill, and really a lot of female bodied people without any of the above  conditions with the disproportionate and increasing toll of long Covid in all these populations.

Out of concern for my own safety and to avoid new disability, I have continued to avoid  getting infected. These days it has been getting increasingly difficult. I spent the 6+ years of my  medical training suppressing and coping with a moderately disabling condition to know how  terrible it was to feel even moderately disanled compared to peers. A friend even casually  mentioned one day that I was a 27 year old in a 40 year old body. Ableism exists and even worse  so for people in the health professions. I also don’t have the luxury to assuming that my family  with chronic illness including immunosuppression will survive repeat COVID infections without  worsening of their chronic conditions, or loss of their transplant organ.

Since COVID-19 continues to kill 1.5 times as many people as seasonal influenza, and  maim even more even in the times of Omicron sublineages, I don’t have the choice to ignore it.  Ignoring it could potentially risk my livelihood, my intellectual ability, including the brain that  got me through years of medical school, and the physical ability that allows me to enjoy life  without pain and restriction.

As an extrovert, my life has changed dramatically. Negatively? Not necessarily. I’m  selective with my friendships, I have stopped seeing a lot of my friends who have moved on  mostly because of dismissive or slighting comments, and unwillingness to make  accommodations to see me. My life is full of outdoor patios, and masked brief indoor outings  here in the states. I have traveled and continue to travel with my partner- albeit in lower  frequency than pre 2020 – in fit tested n95 respirators. I got to go to Japan to experience life in a collectivist society, even if for a brief while, earlier this year. My respirator kept me safe, as did  community masking through all kinds of crowded venues.

The costs of my life are that I know more, and care more about chronic illness and the  dangers of reinfection. Much more than my immediate family, my partner and oftentimes some  healthcare providers. That’s been a side effect of always staying appraised and up-to-date on  this virus and its accompanying set of illnesses. It’s a burdensome role, shared by many other  new branded COVID experts, even larger of a burden for those studying long COVID, those  studying end organ system and immunologic impacts, who then have to share this data with the  public. It’s a tremendous moral injury to be a caregiver of people and of populations in these  times.

I returned to clinical practice for a short while between policy changes, for a half day per  week from the summer of 2021 to 2022. I had a mostly substance use reduction based practice  and felt uncomfortable in increasing workloads of COVID-19 positive patient care that I knew  were upcoming especially with increasing community transmission. However, with societal  reopening and the end of the mask mandate on transit, my commute on crowded max trains  got increasingly uncomfortable, and especially so during times of high community transmission.  I left in-person clinical practice, a year after I had re-entered it. I feel increasingly reluctant to  return especially with the loss of universal masking in healthcare settings even more recently.  Unfortunately, this virus is not at a virulence that I can tolerate workplace exposures without  reasonable mitigation. Despite some personal and group based advocacy I engaged along with  others, mostly disabled, suffering from long COVID, or other chronic illness that puts them at  risk, we failed to achieve a stay on healthcare masking. I have been lucky enough to not require  frequent healthcare services for myself during this period of sustained viral infectivity and  severity combined with falling mitigations. But these compounded losses as a healthcare  provider, I will grieve for longer, and more deeply than some of my other social and community  losses where I could rebuild and forge new connections from the small but still strong  community of people who care about community caring, love, support and wellness.

The only times I feel concerned for my wellbeing and mental health are in the gaslighting  and minimizing comments by healthcare providers, and colleagues both in public health and  healthcare who have “moved on” and make comments to indicate disapproval or worse,  incredulity.

I knew, years ago, when I entered Healthcare as a profession, that this was a place for  healthy people, who “worked out”, who experienced no chronic illness, both physical or  behavioral, or none that they could show transparently. This has been highlighted by the  Oregon Medical Board’s decision to remove stigmatizing language on the attestation forms for  physician licensure around mental health and substance use. But cosmetic fixes like this don’t  dismantle the very real systemic ableism in healthcare that continue to persist. Some of the  same reasons for physician suicide I see replicated in the gaslighting, marginalization and  repeated dismissal of physicians who desire and have very real physical needs to avoid and  minimize infections and reinfection with COVID as a reason to avoid or reduce the chance of  disability. If our healthcare workforce, agencies and systems can’t even care for our own, who  will care for our patients?

Written Story by Seth

Embracing Love Across Boundaries

My name is Seth, and amidst the chaos and uncertainty of a global pandemic, I experienced a profound journey into fatherhood. It was during these trying times that my wife, Grace, and I welcomed our first baby girl, Galaxy, into the world. Little did we know that the curfew imposed by the circumstances would prevent our family members, including my own parents, from being physically present to witness this precious moment.

As the day approached, anxiety mingled with excitement in my heart. The joy of becoming a father was overwhelming, but a sense of sadness seeped in as well. I longed for my parents to be by our side, to shower their love upon their granddaughter and share in the joyous occasion. Yet, due to the curfew restrictions, their presence seemed like a distant dream.

Within the walls of the hospital, I held Grace’s hand tightly, providing her with the comfort and support she needed during labor. As our daughter, Galaxy, came into this world, a wave of emotions washed over me. The absence of our families was deeply felt, but I couldn’t let despair cloud this precious moment. With the help of modern technology, we connected with our parents through video calls, sharing the incredible sight of Galaxy’s arrival. Their faces lit up with pure love and pride, albeit through the screen. Tears of joy mingled with longing as we witnessed their overwhelming emotions from afar.

In the days that followed, I witnessed Grace’s strength and resilience as she embraced motherhood with grace. Together, we navigated the sleepless nights and celebrated every milestone our little Galaxy reached. Yet, a part of me yearned for the presence of my own parents, for their wisdom and guidance during this new chapter of our lives.

The curfew imposed by the pandemic became an unexpected catalyst for personal growth. I delved into books on fatherhood, seeking solace and insights that would help me become the best parent I could be.

However, the desire to introduce Galaxy to her grandparents remained a constant ache in my heart. Imagining their arms wrapped around her, showering her with love, became a bittersweet solace during quiet moments.

As the weeks turned into months, the curfew gradually eased, allowing careful visits from loved ones. The day finally arrived when my parents, masks in place and hearts overflowing with love, entered our home. Tears of joy streamed down our faces as they cradled their granddaughter, Galaxy, for the first time, their touch conveying a lifetime of affection and adoration. In that beautiful moment, the distance and longing of the past months melted away, replaced by an unbreakable bond that defied physical separation.

Looking at Galaxy, surrounded by the love and warmth of her grandparents, I understood that our connection had been forged in the face of adversity. The memories of those early days, marked by solitude and longing, would forever remind us of the power of love and the resilience of family bonds.

As I watched my little Galaxy grow, I marveled at the strength of our family’s love and how it had persevered despite the challenges we faced. Our reunion was not just a celebration of physical presence but a testament to the indomitable spirit of love and connection that transcends boundaries.

Galaxy, with her radiant smile and curious eyes, became a beacon of hope and resilience in our lives. The times when her grandparents couldn’t hold her physically were replaced by countless video calls and virtual storytelling sessions, ensuring that the bond between them remained unbreakable.

And so, as I held Galaxy close, I knew that her journey into this world was imbued with a unique story.

As conclusion, the pandemic has tested our resilience and redefined our priorities. Through adversity, we have learned the value of human connection, adaptability, and compassion. As we move forward, we carry the lessons learned and a collective determination to create a better future.