Updated: Oct 10, 2020
COVID-19 has swept across the planet, leaving tears, pain, and destruction everywhere it goes. Three military kids describe how it has impacted them.
Mackenzie, Age 12
Mackenzie has been living in Washington, D.C for the past two years and is loving it!! She is currently in her third, and final, year at the duty station before she moves to Georgia.
Having the best of friends, starting on an amazing basketball team, living in the dream house, and being so close to so many important buildings, Mackenzie is not looking forward to leaving D.C. But at least she has a few more months with her friends, team, and time to explore, right?
That's what Mackenzie thought, until the Coronavirus swept through her life.
In what seemed like a matter of days, Mackenzie's basketball season was suspended, so suddenly that she never got to say goodbye to her teammates. Next went school. Unlike many kids her age, Mackenzie loves school. Seeing her friends, talking to teachers, and playing games in P.E. were beloved parts of her daily schedule. But when her school closed its doors for the year, Mackenzie found another part of her life barred away. Soon, all she had left was the house she lived in and family that lived there as she and most of the world were under quarantine.
Preparing to move in the upcoming months, would Mackenzie get to say goodbye to all her teammates, friends, and teachers? Would Mackenzie be able to walk through D.C., clutching her little sister's hand again before they left?
Hot, gloppy tears fall onto her bed as she clutches the bear her dad gave her before he deployed when she was six. Mackenzie sits criss-crossed and tries not to cry too loudly, as she doesn't want to draw attention to her despairs.
Mackenzie had read about a nursing home that had found itself struck by the disease; she knows not being able to play basketball or eat lunch with her friends is not the biggest problem in the world.
There are people dying, families being torn apart.
And yet Mackenzie still feels for her loss, as she should. Emotions demand to be felt. Just because there are greater tragedies, they do not belittle hers.
Mackenzie thinks of her teammates and friends, and the lunch-ladies who used to give her extra mashed potatoes. Uncrossing her legs, she slides off the bed and walks to her desk. Sitting down, she grabs a pen and some old notecards.
Tapping the pen against the table, she thinks about what to write. How can she cheer up her friends and inspire her teammates to practice on their own? How can she express her gratitude to her teachers and counselors for being there for her?
Mackenzie sets to writing. As she writes, she starts noting the good things in her life, and the bad. The things she can control, and those she can't. Coronavirus took a lot from Mackenzie, as it had many people. But, she still had her family to lean on, toys to play with, and spirit to keep her going.
Abigail, Age 16
Turning 16 is iconic. Every girl dreams about her big party and being handed the keys to her new, blue car. Abigail was so close to closing her fingers around the keys, arriving at the party, but unfortunately it all get cancelled. #ThanksCorona
First, Abigail's parents told her her party had to be postponed.
"Abs, we're so sorry, but we just can't have sixty people together. It's too much of a liability," her Dad started.
"We can hold the party in a few weeks, maybe a month," her mom continued. But everyone at the dinner table knew that wasn't true. Abigail's party wouldn't be happening for months, if it did.
Next, the DMV closed. Abigail's dreams of driving off into the sunset on her sweet sixteen seemed to take a wrong turn, not arriving in time for her big day. She blew out her candles at home, surrounded by Mom, Dad, her little brother, the cat, and TV. Then, after she had ate a slice of cake and opened her presents, she went upstairs to watch Grey's Anatomy.
Tomorrow she would ask her mom to drive her to the store; they were running low on soda.
No party, no license, no birthday. Abigail was distraught. Her Sweet Sixteen had turned into a Sour, Sucky, Stupid Sixteen.
It was almost eight o'clock when her phone rang.
"Abby!" a familiar voice cooed into the phone, "Look outside!" Abigail was confused by her friend's demand, but slid out of bed and dragged herself to the window anyway.
Twelve cars lined the pavement, one of them blasting Lizzo and the others with balloons and streamers tied to them. Girls hung out of the windows and waved to Abigail. She felt a warm blush rise up her neck and tears cling to her eyes. The group started singing "Happy Birthday" as her parents came up to see what all the commotion was about.
After singing and saying their hellos, each car pulled up to the house, dropped off a gift, and drove off. Abigail's mom, bringing a can of Clorox with her, went to retrieve the gifts.
While Abigail's Sweet Sixteen, the one she had always imagined, had been cancelled, her birthday still had its unique twist to it. Surrounded by loved ones and still reaping the benefits of turning a year older (cake and gifts, of course), Abigail's birthday was very special. Of course she would have rather had her party and license, but that would not stop her, her friends, or parents from making sure Abigail had a good day. #SorryRona, but you couldn't ruin this girl's Sweet Sixteen.
Tatum, Age 17
The calendar taped to the wall above Tatum's bed had bright blue slashes through every day, leading up to the second week of April, spring break. Tatum's bags had been packed for weeks and she had already planned out every second of the trip. Friday night, she and her mom would leave Ohio and begin the drive to Florida. They would stop for one night to sleep, then drive the rest the following day. Then, Tatum would take the wheel and drive the familiar path to her old neighborhood. Once she took a left past the playground, two rights, and passed the reeeally big blue house she used to dream about living in, she would jump out of the car and run into her best friend's arms. Spring break would be the first time she'd seen Meghan in eight months.
But she would have to wait a few more, now. Due to coronavirus, the vacation she had been working towards and waiting for had been cancelled.
A million emotions flooded Tatum's heart: anger, sadness, longing, irritation. But Tatum also was acceptant. Coronavirus was not something she could control. It wasn't her family's fault - or anyone's for that matter. And she had it pretty good. If all she lost to coronavirus was a vacation, Tatum counted herself pretty lucky.