By Isaac Thompson
On Monday, March 9, my journalism professor asked our class what we thought of the COVID-19 crisis as it seemed to be gaining speed in its spread to the U.S. and across the globe. By Friday night, March 13, the rest of our semester on campus was cancelled.
Classes were moved online after a two-week break, during which we were expected to move off campus and go home. Within the span of one week, our world was more than turned upside down—our world, our campus was torn apart, months too early.
As my friends departed campus, some for the last time as undergraduates, I packed up and drove home. An eight-hour drive to my house near Nashville felt like an infinite open road as I-81 was more desolate than I have ever seen it.
After one stop for a burger and gas, I was back in my childhood home. It felt different being here when I was not meant to be. The virus had not even been an issue in my mind at that point; all I was worried about was the time I was losing.
The real toll of the coronavirus on my life was clear as soon as I stepped through my front door. My stepdad is disabled, and my mother takes care of him and sews from home to pay the bills. My stepdad’s Social Security check pays the mortgage, but everything else is normally covered by her pillow and curtain jobs. Her business dried up before I arrived home, so money had been running low. We needed help, and we needed help fast.
Andy Marshall, a local restaurant entrepreneur, decided to help out those in the service industry. People like my mom. Marshall collected food from donors around town and invited people in need to come and get the food, free of charge. Being in need is never something I have been proud of, but acts of kindness like this never cease to amaze me.
With our needs taken care of, it was just up to me to find something to do. Social distancing has been real to me because my stepdad is extremely at risk for COVID-19. Along with watching movies and playing video games, I decided to use this newly found free time to get outside. Hikes through the hills of Franklin were just the thing I needed to work out my frustrations and feelings with the whole situation.
Still, even with the time to myself, I still worried about my family’s needs and the danger the virus poses toward important people in my life.
My mom and I decided to help ease others’ troubles. Because she sews professionally, my mom quickly learned from a friend how to make protective masks out of fabric that could be donated to the local hospital.
I am not as skilled, but I can still cut out strips from sterilized old t-shirts to use as straps for the masks. People from all over the community have joined in to help.
The uncertainty of this unprecedented time has and will continue to test our drive and tenacity. But I have watched friends and strangers come together to get through this, even while they are physically separated.
Some people donate food, and others make masks.
People are helping people in ways that have not been seen before.
I don’t know what will come of all this, nor do I know what will even happen next. Maybe I am just being naïve, but I trust we will find a way through this. I hope we will.