The Year of COVID-19

I was a fourth-year medical student. We were pulled
from the hospitals in March. I volunteered to help

with COVID testing at the health department. It gave
me a way to be part of contributing to the solution.

Personally, I was lucky. My family and friends were
healthy. But when I went back to the ICU in June, I

saw how sick the patients were. It stayed with me
(I started micro-managing my friends after I saw

the suffering, first-hand). I wanted to lock both my
parents in the apartment with me. After surviving

being alone for so long, I realized how much I valued
my relationships. This, too, will stay with me. All

my residency interviews were virtual; there were
a lot of awkward silences and no seeing cities.

When I think back on 2020, I want to remember it was the
year I survived isolation…this is my commemoration.

Notes from the interview that inspired this poem:

She wanted a poem to commemorate her experience living through COVID-19. “I’ve been thinking a lot about the significance of living through this piece of history, and what I want to remember when I look back on this time, twenty years from now,” she said. “I envision this poem on the wall of my office when I’m a physician–as a way to remind myself what this time was like.” She told me that the most memorable part of her experience this year was being alone in her apartment and living by herself. “It’s profound knowing I can survive something like this,” she said, “but I’m glad not to do it again.”

Interviewee: Anonymous, Medical Student
Listener Poet: Jenny Hegland

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