story by tw

Sorted by: Theme: Inspiration & Hope

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.

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 Shariff Abdullahaziz

As the days went by, the symptoms of Covid-19 started to take their toll on my body. The loss of  taste and smell persisted, making every meal a bland and uneventful experience. However, my  wife’s culinary skills and creativity shone through as she experimented with different flavors and  textures to make eating more enjoyable for me. She also researched home remedies and  natural therapies to help alleviate the discomfort and boost my immune system.

Despite the physical challenges, it was the mental and emotional aspect of battling Covid-19  that proved to be the most difficult. Isolation from my loved ones took a toll on my spirits.  Missing the warmth of family gatherings, the laughter of my children, and the support of friends  became a constant ache in my heart. But technology bridged the gap as we connected virtually,  sharing stories, jokes, and even shedding tears together.

During this time, I also grappled with anxiety and fear about the uncertain future. The financial  strain caused by my inability to work for several months due to the illness weighed heavily on  my mind. Debt accumulated, and the burden seemed insurmountable. However, I leaned on the  strength of my family, friends, and the support systems available in the community to navigate  through these challenges. They provided guidance, resources, and emotional support,  reminding me that I was not alone in this journey.

As the weeks passed, I witnessed the power of resilience and the miracles of the human body.  Gradually, my sense of taste and smell returned, bringing with it a renewed sense of hope and  gratitude. The fever subsided, and the persistent pain gradually faded away. Finally, after two  long weeks of isolation, I received the news I had been eagerly awaiting – a follow-up test  confirmed that I was Covid-free. It was a moment of pure joy and relief for me and my family.

However, the road to recovery didn’t end there. The impact of the virus lingered, both physically  and emotionally. Fatigue crept into my daily life, reminding me of the battle my body had  fought. Memory lapses and difficulty concentrating became unwelcome companions. I realized  that the aftermath of Covid-19 extended far beyond the period of illness, and I needed to  prioritize self-care and seek medical guidance to address these lingering effects.

With the support of healthcare professionals, I embarked on a journey of rehabilitation and  healing. Physical exercises and cognitive stimulation became part of my daily routine as I worked  to regain my strength, memory, and focus. Therapy sessions provided a safe space to express my  fears, anxieties, and challenges, enabling me to develop coping mechanisms and build  resilience.

Slowly but surely, life began to regain its rhythm. I returned to work, grateful for the opportunity  to contribute once again. However, the psychological trauma of the Covid-19 experience  remained with me. The fear of the unknown, the memories of isolation, and the fragility of life  continued to shape my perspective. But through it all, I held onto the lessons learned – the  importance of gratitude, resilience, and cherishing the moments we often take for granted.

Today, as I reflect on my journey, I am filled with a profound sense of gratitude for the unwavering support of my family, the dedication of healthcare professionals, and the resilience  of the human spirit. The scars of the past may still be visible, but they serve as a reminder of the  strength and courage it took to overcome the challenges that Covid-19 presented.

In this new chapter of life, I strive to live each day with renewed purpose, cherishing the simple  joys, and never taking the gift of health for granted. The memories of hardship and triumph will forever be etched in my heart, serving as a constant reminder of the indomitable spirit

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.

Written Story by Anonymous

Socrates said, “The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” While Covid may not have been old when my daughter was born in late December of 2019, I certainly wanted to build a new foundation for my partner and I’d daughter. We had tried for years to conceive and in the spring of 2019, when the positive result appeared, I was overjoyed! My partner is an amazing woman and simply the greatest mother, my daughter and I are both so fortunate to have her in our lives. Knowing that she and I get the joy of preparing to bring into the world our greatest joy was a gift beyond measure. And boy did that time go fast!

The Sunday morning that my partner’s water broke was a whirlwind of movement to get to the hospital as quickly as possible. You see, our daughter was born 3 weeks early and we hadn’t yet prepared for her as much as we should have. While my partner is a very forward-thinking individual, I tend to focus on the present and worry about the details later. Let’s just say that I am so, so glad that my partner had a bag packed for herself and we had a crib (even if the mattress for the crib wasn’t being delivered until Monday). We drove to the hospital through a small rainstorm, but we made it safely and got checked in, ready to see our daughter.

My partner was induced and delivered our daughter within the same day. Look, I have seen tough people, having worked on several trail crews doing manual labor such as literally wrestling holders into the perfect position for a stone step (my partner has done this work as well, I’m proud to say), but no one could have handled the pain of being induced to deliver in such a small amount of time as my partner. To say I felt a little useless and a whole lot confused wouldn’t be a wholly invalid statement. But I tried to help how I could and my partner, the real champ, delivered our little girl into the world at 9 PM on the day she checked into the hospital. I will never forget hearing our daughter’s first cry or the warmth in my heart seeing my partner holding our wonderful child.

Our parents came to the hospital, along with my partner’s brother, and we all were so happy to welcome our little bundle of joy into a world of opportunity and love. While navigating a whole new world of parenthood in our hospital room, there was change brewing. Our daughter was placed onto a 2-hour feeding schedule to help gain weight as she was born early and needed to gain weight before being discharged. While I will do whatever I have to do make sure our daughter is provided for and I heard about sleep disruption with a new child, it was hard. Through the joys of navigating becoming first time parents, I realized just how little I would not do or change to give our daughter the life she deserved.

Nearing the end of our hospital stay we were watching CNN. This was early January 2020 and not more than a few days earlier we were celebrating the new year with my partner’s parents and brother while my daughter slept on her mother’s chest. But it was hard to be joyful, or optimistic, when witnessing people being forcefully quarantined into their homes in Wuhan, China. Change was happening and, even thousands of miles away, it seemed like uncertain times were upon us. It was frightening to say the least but, optimistic to a fault, I thought that whatever was happening in Wuhan would not come to Coos County in Oregon…

Well to say I am wrong is about like saying the surface of the sun is a bit warm. I expected life to change when I became a father. Maybe I will get less sleep, cut back on my gaming time, and be prepared to listen to some catchy kid songs if come to learn to enjoy (hopefully). But what I ended up with was a world where millions would die from a virus that spread globally within months. It was NOT what I wanted for my daughter.

During the Covid-19 pandemic many people experienced changes that radically altered their perceived future, their careers, their financial stability, and dashed away many hopes and dreams. While I cannot say that I had the worst of it by any stretch, before our daughter finally received her Covid-19 vaccine we had moved towns, I lost my job as a sole supporter to my family, began counseling services, and experienced the frustration of seeing my daughter grow up in a world in which my partner and I had to restrict seeing family and friends to ensure the health of our daughter. I understand I am not unique or alone in those situations but there was not exactly a handbook for this.

There were many parts of the pandemic that actually provided me with what I would never have dreamed of having before. I have worked completely remotely since my daughter was born, and if I can help it at all I will try in all of my power to keep it that way. The chance to be home with my family during the day was such an amazing experience. It has not been easy, especially when I was doing direct practice for a while, but my current job in a whole new field has been both challenging and rewarding. That change HAS been a silver lining from the changes caused by Covid-19.

Change is the only constant in this world. While I knew that well before Covid, perhaps it had shown me just how easy it is for society to radically change. So, as Socrates said, perhaps it is best to stop fighting the old and to instead pursue what I DO want for my future. The pandemic has shown me I want to be the best father I can, the best partner I can, and to be brave enough to fall. But more importantly the bravery to get up after falling. It hit me hard, really hard, when I lost my job. I went to school for that job, and it felt like sand slipping through my hand and floating in the wind while I was frozen in fear…

But that did not stop me. I continued to search for change, to search for good. What inspired that change was my daughter. No matter what I will do, I need to do to ensure she gets EVERYTHING she needs to have a happy life. I am sure almost every parent would say the same.  Becoming a parent was a change. Witnessing and living through the pandemic was a change. Those two events happened so closely together it is difficult to say which affected me the most. But I don’t have to choose which one did impact me, that is in the old. What matters now is the new.

A new life with love, life, and the opportunity to see my family thrive. To see my daughter go to pre-school and work towards becoming the veterinarian she says she will become. My wife will find a job she loves and be close to her family. And through it all I will continue to support them. My new change is to live my life for them because they are my life. I know that is cliché but I can’t help it. All I want is my loved ones to be happy, healthy, and to pursue the new that they are meant to pursue.

Written Story by Anonymous

In March of 2020, Covid19 descended in our community much like any other communities in  Oregon. The entire community went into lock down just like the whole State and Country did.  We entered into survivor mode in effort to combat and educate community members about this  terrible pandemic. This was not easy and it required cooperation of everyone. As a community  our first and primary duty was to assure that everyone is safe and protected. We followed every  single guideline as given without exception. We also resulted in using traditional healing  mechanism for preventing getting this terrible disease. One of the best way was to protect  ourselves from getting a cold which could result in possibly weakening the body and making it  susceptible to getting infected. So we consumed everything that will fortify our bodies ans  health. One of the simplest remedies used was to boil a combination of lemon, ginger, onion,  and garlic and then add a spoon of natural honey. This was the perfect combination to make the  body not susceptible to cold. This little an simple remedy worked like magic. We also formed an  alliance in our community towards protecting our community members. This was meant to  assure that everyone was healthy. We connect via frequent phone calls, via social media such  whatsapp very often if not daily. We did drive by to our community members that to assure  more visibility and assurance that everyone was doing well. It doesn’t mean that member did  not get sick, it simply means that we kept an open communication to assure that if a community  member was to get convid19, we will sick resources to assure that he or she is has all the care  they need. This was not a simple endeavor since there was still some stigma about covid19 as  some people thought they will be shined if it discovered that they have been infected by  Civid19. So we had to create a sense of community understanding that covid19 is a disease that  no one is immune. At any particular time anyone could unfortunately get it. The most important  this is that it matters to assure that anyone affected will get all care and help they needed to  make sure the come though victorious. As a community we launched a campaign designed to  informatio all community members on facts about covid19, and possible remedies including self  care. This became the most important mission of community elders to assure that our  community stays unified and in keeping everyone safe. This involved frequent phone calls,  frequent chats and once in while a get together in socially distanced way. All of these measures  were meant to stay connected and stay current by ensuring the well-being of community  members. One of the best weapon we realized was education. Education provided knowledge,  shared values, collaboration, and understanding that no one was alone. In this circumstances  assuring that every member was well and healthy was all we needed to accomplish our goal.  This is often a long term project for community well-being.

Written Story by Sage-Curry

We have been learning to be strong little one

As the wind and rain have found no pattern against the windowpane It has been me and you

Together

Who listen to the howl of humanity’s suffering outside our window. When you first smiled

My own disappeared willingingly behind a mask

Your first words

Were for me only

As we are alone now

But they are all the more precious

As a word in joy has the weight of a precious metal in this time. In the endless darkness you nurse

Pulling life from my body into yours

What kind of world have I brought you into?

My tears tremble silently down

Upon your round perfect cheek

A beach, a ride in a grocery cart

The library, a grandma

Everything I took for granted

Before your birth

Of those things at least I could offer you

I thought.

I knew nothing of the storm that would come so soon after you were born And through the sleepless nights of your new life

I found dread knotted into my new existence as your mother. All I knew was that

I must protect the tiny pulsing light of your spirit

And I will

I promise you sweet innocent

My greatest love

Our ancestors.

Whoever and wherever they found themselves

Survived the cold, the pain, the loss

To bring me and then you to this place

Our storm will end

Someday

And when that time comes

I will take you by the hand

And show you how beautiful the world outside our window is.

Written Story by Rebel Fayola Black

I haven’t gotten COVID….yet. But it has changed my life, for worse AND for better.

I have worn a mask every time I’ve gone into public since Spring 2020. First, I sewed them  myself, perfecting a pattern with a wire nose piece that fit my face snugly. The fabrics were so  pretty, and I used cool elastic for the ear loops. Now, I wear N-95’s with the headbands, because  they are so much safer. I’ve worn a mask every time I’ve gone into public since Spring 2020  despite having a trauma history of having my mouth and nose covered and being unable to take  a breath. It’s my responsibility to myself and my community to stay safe(r), even when it’s  hard…even when it triggers a trauma response.

When the mask mandate was dropped–the government kowtowing to business interests over  our health–it made it so much harder to go into public. It’s hard to take precautions when it  isn’t normalized, and it isn’t safe to be in crowds (such as a grocery store) when no one is  masking. When healthcare settings dropped the mask mandate, I felt actually in danger. Going  into Emergency or Primary Care settings where no one is wearing masks feels horrific. When I  see a provider wearing a mask, I thank them in order to reinforce their behavior. (To all the  people reading this who still wear masks, THANK YOU!)

See, I’m Disabled, low-income, have diabetes and a low immune system (low IgG), mast cell  disease, and am fat. When I get sick, I get REALLY sick. Statistically, I am less likely to be  prioritized by the healthcare system if there’s an outbreak that results in healthcare rationing. I  also have caregivers who come into my home every day: they wear N-96 masks as well, but I still  worry.

I was Disabled before COVID: I am mostly housebound. I’ve been isolated for years. It’s lonely,  and I often couldn’t attend meetings in person. I stopped being able to work due to complex  pain and chronic fatigue. I had trouble getting to therapy. Getting groceries was an almost impossible task for me even before COVID.

During COVID, suddenly it was more prevalent for my non-Disabled friends to be open to  meeting and hanging out over Zoom. So my social and political world opened up. I was finally  able to engage in organizing from my bed! I’m currently on a steering committee for a  transitional house for LGBTQ2SIA+ people coming out of incarceration, and that is exciting and  liberating. We meet remotely.I was able to see my friends’ faces when we talked, and they were  open to chatting more frequently. Instacart was more normalized and I felt less guilty using it  when I needed to.

I was able to start a Disability Justice and Racial Equity consulting business: Leaping Water. I can  engage with colleagues around the country. I am able to work from home, which is an access  need I have advocated for for years–to much resistance from the non-Disabled working world.  Using Zoom was normalized, rather than fringe. So I’m able to do work and attend trainings and  conferences and organizing meetings from my home, where I can breathe purified air and be  comfortable with my legs up (an access need).

To be honest, I resented when non-Disabled people complained about being newly isolated and  burdened by remote work, remote socializing, remote conferences, remote anything. “It’s just  not the same as being together in person!” they lamented. While I have empathy, it felt like a  slap in the face to all of us who have been struggling to connect to the outside world for  decades…even longer for our Disabled elders. Moreover, having these activities be remote  OPENED UP MY WORLD. Finally, my access needs were being met.

So, COVID has been a mixed bag. I’m worried about getting it, especially because of the  potential impacts of Long COVID, but the pandemic also forced structural changes that Disabled  people have been advocating for for years. I just hope those structural changes are here to stay.  With the mask mandates being lifted, it feels like non-Disabled people are going back to their  version of “normal,” while the rest of us are left behind. Please don’t leave us behind.

Written Story by Rabia Jabarkhil

The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020 led to significant changes in the  way people live, work, and interact with one another. Social distancing measures, lockdowns,  and restrictions on gatherings have resulted in widespread feelings of isolation and  disconnectedness. However, amid these challenging circumstances, communities have come  together, adapting and finding innovative ways to maintain connections, support one another,  and alleviate the impact of isolation.

Technology has played a pivotal role in maintaining community connections during the  pandemic. Virtual platforms and communication tools have become lifelines for individuals and  communities, enabling people to stay connected despite physical distances. Video conferencing  platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet have become commonplace for  work meetings, online classes, and social gatherings. These platforms have bridged the gap  between people, allowing them to see and interact with loved ones, friends, and colleagues,  providing a sense of normalcy.

Communities have rallied together to create support networks for those who are  vulnerable or in need during these challenging times. Local organizations, volunteer groups, and  neighborhood associations have organized initiatives to provide essential supplies, groceries,  and medication to those unable to leave their homes. These acts of kindness and solidarity have  helped combat the feeling of isolation, fostering a sense of belonging and community spirit.  Also, the pandemic has witnessed the proliferation of online communities focused on shared  interests and hobbies. Platforms like Reddit, Facebook Groups, and online forums have seen an  increase in users seeking connection and support. These communities provide spaces for  individuals to share experiences, discuss common interests, and find solace in knowing they are  not alone. Whether it’s a book club, a fitness group, or a mental health support forum, these  online communities have offered a sense of belonging and camaraderie during a time of  physical separation.

The pandemic has also spurred creativity and innovation in maintaining community  connections. People have organized virtual concerts, art exhibitions, and online performances,  allowing artists to share their work and audiences to enjoy cultural experiences from the  comfort of their homes. Local theaters have live-streamed performances, museums have  offered virtual tours, and musicians have hosted online concerts. These creative endeavors have  not only entertained and inspired individuals but have also brought communities together,  fostering a shared sense of appreciation for the arts.

Recognizing the toll of isolation on mental health, individuals and communities have  made concerted efforts to support one another emotionally. Mental health helplines, online  counseling services, and virtual support groups have emerged, providing a crucial lifeline for  those struggling with anxiety, depression, and loneliness. Communities have organized wellness  challenges, meditation sessions, and mindfulness workshops to promote emotional well-being  and encourage self-care practices. These initiatives have not only supported individuals in need  but have also strengthened the fabric of community connections.

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented unprecedented challenges, with isolation and  disconnectedness becoming prevalent issues in communities worldwide. However, in the face of  adversity, communities have risen to the occasion, leveraging technology, fostering support  networks, and nurturing a sense of togetherness. By embracing virtual platforms, creating  online communities, and supporting one another’s mental health, individuals have found ways  to connect, support, and uplift each other during these trying times. As we navigate the ongoing  pandemic and beyond, it is essential to continue fostering these community connections,  ensuring that no one feels isolated and that everyone can find solace, support, and a sense of  belonging within their communities.