“It made me single. A 10-year relationship couldn’t rise above his enthusiastic embrace of anti-vaccine rhetoric and conspiracy theories.” — Carolyn, Phoenix
“In 2019, I was a long-term cancer survivor living a vibrant life. But Covid brought my life to a virtual standstill as a high-risk individual. My husband and I will have missed my son’s adolescence’s worth of school concerts, the family ethnic restaurant outings he loved and getting to know his friends. I lost the simple joy of taking my daughter and her friends to lunch, as no safe visits were possible through her four years of college. I am disappointed in how easily the fortunate and healthy have left behind those of us who are not.” — Ellen Kornmehl, West Newton, Mass.
“I have never, before or after, experienced the level of gratitude I felt about reconnecting with people I love as we first emerged from lockdown. Being with my friends and family ‘in 3-D’ — as opposed to on a flat Zoom screen — flooded me with a visceral sense of gratitude. I will always remember. The freedom to hug my adult children and siblings for the first time in many months was simply extraordinary.” — Joan Markoff, Sacramento
“I understood personal loss after losing my dad to Covid. I helped manage his care through phone calls with medical staff and FaceTimed with him during his two-month hospital stay. When he didn’t wake up after being put on the ventilator, we FaceTimed him daily and sang songs and told him the daily news to try to get through to him. We watched him pass away through a video stream. I felt so removed from his death. It was traumatizing. My family and friends helped me, but the biggest help was through the Covid Grief Network. I have more empathy for people grieving, and I try to be a support to those around me who have suffered a loss.” — Kim Burke, New York City
“Covid increased my circle of friends as we banded together to make 77,000-plus masks on ‘remote’ assembly lines to share with homeless shelters, the fire departments and others. My husband and I volunteered in the vaccine trials and at this point have had seven vaccines and boosters. We found ways to cope. We realized humans really are social animals and need each other. Zoom cocktail parties and funerals as well as celebrations and wakes on driveways. We rediscovered the joys of the outdoors.” — Linda Robertson, St. Charles, Ill.
“I was a budding anesthesiology resident when the Covid pandemic hit, and we were in the thick of it. There was no testing at the time, so we were stuck wondering whether we were going to contract this mystery disease, spread it among our peers and families. It was a terrifying time. Observing the burnout and mass retirements seen in our department has left lingering doubts in many of our minds about how our futures will look.” — Pooja Patel, San Diego
“Just today I stopped and sighed as I realized my life has been diminished by the pandemic. My heart is sore. We often tore each other apart, instead of appreciating everyone was suffering. We could have come out of this as a more united and compassionate species. We are capable and often exhibit such care for each other, but now I see how many hearts are too hardened to reach out again. But please, let’s try. Maybe we could all slow down, breathe and smile at one another whenever we can. At least we are still alive.” — Leah Sue Sullivan, San Diego