COVID-19: bringing us together by keeping us apart

Margaret Baumgartner, Sports Editor

On March 12th, as Washington Governor Jay Inslee addressed the state, I sat in my journalism class full of other seniors, juniors, and sophomores. I set up the livestream of the press conference, and we tuned in just in time to hear his announcement that all schools would close until April 24th, with the first day back at school being April 27th. 

Fifteen minutes before his press conference started, The Seattle Times leaked the story, so we all saw it coming. But none of us wanted to believe it. Some classrooms down the hall cheered. In my classroom hands were brought up to our mouths as we gasped and tears rolled down our cheeks. Only later did I learn that the rest of the senior classrooms were just like ours: no cheering, no hoorays for an extended spring break, but worried faces from the cloud of uncertainty of what would happen to our senior year.

I slowly saw my future slipping away and began to question almost everything. I was unsure of how my track season would continue, what prom would look like, if I would even have a walking graduation. I’m still unsure. But if it means less people die, then I’m okay with it. Memories and moments are one thing, but people’s lives are more important.

Nationwide and worldwide, seniors in their last year of high school or college are missing out on those cliche memories so many others got to have. It’s a right of passage we don’t get to share. 

However, we have a different type of shared experience that will bond us with the entirety of the human population. Now is the time for togetherness without being able to physically be together. We are living through a period that is difficult; we are living through something that is bigger than merely one person. This is a pandemic, a wide-spread, massive disease that has claimed the lives of so many people and, as many may not like to admit, it is far from over.

This is a shared experience: everyone in the world will have a memory to share ten years from now about how COVID-19 touched their life. Living in Washington during this time, I have been able to see the entire situation in America unfold. Washington is where the first confirmed cases and deaths in America were. We were the first to respond because we were the first affected. I have witnessed firsthand the fear that this disease instills in people, the worry, the dread. I have experienced it myself. Yet, I have also witnessed the perseverance of the American people, the comradery that has occurred worldwide, and the communities that have been strengthened through this process.

I am a senior in high school. I may not get to have a prom, a walking graduation, or those cliche memories I have looked forward to and talked about with friends and family for so long, but I will have been a part of something much more important. I will have experienced the world finally coming together to face an imminent situation.