In early 2020 I was dismissive. Stuck with the majority of the country that scoffed at the thought that some flu couldn’t be anything more than media hype. It had happened before, and although we’d had a few scares with other viruses, it was easy to write it off.
The first step was being sent home from work, nothing more than a little holiday. I’d wanted to work from home for ages anyway. Then people started dying. A few at first and then a lot more. My wife and I sat opened mouthed as the prime minister ordered us all to stay home. A moment I will never forget for as long as I live.
All of my energy now went into keeping everyone safe. Not me, there is every chance that our family would be fine. We are all young, no medical conditions that would make catching COVID-19 dangerous. Everyone else that would be at risk was our concern. Our elderly family, those with medical issues, neighbours, and friends that needed our help — that was our focus.
We stayed home. Walked once a day with our dog. Stood on our doorsteps and clapped those putting themselves at risk to help others. My wife went back to work to help the adults she looked after, our family did its best to complete school work, work for our employers and keep everyone safe. Not for us, for everyone who required us to help.
We dedicated days, then weeks, then months of our lives to make sure those at risk got the best chance possible. Cancelling everything that would put others at risk. Holidays, birthdays, seeing family, all of that fell away. Replaced by video calls and huge group chats. Just to keep us going. Our mental health suffered, we isolated when we had to, we spent weeks not going out because doing so put others at risk. We looked after everyone by looking after ourselves.
The chance of making it back to normal came quicker than expected. Medical treatments meant that the chance of dying reduced. Care packages enabled people to survive, the waves of patients in hospitals declined in their intensity. Vaccinations came and allowed us to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Compared to what we had been through, the exchange of a few hours feeling sick in return for help with immunity was like a golden ticket out.
We saw what those suffering had been through. We lost neighbours, friends, family. We heard from people that survived, some still suffering. Thankfull that there was a way out, a medical marvel. Not perfect, but it gave us a chance.
The sacrifice was, of course, worth it. I suffered, and in many ways I still am. My family still bares the scars of staying in, some that won’t heal for a long time. Mentally exhausted from the effort to save others. None of these sacrifices are for us. Hardship in life rarely is, but to be a good person is to think of others. Help as many as you can and improve the lives of others when you can. Yet, in 2021 these values seem lost.
Lost to a world dedicated to the individual. Lives filled with selfishness and greed. Where they are all the main character and care very little for others around them. Instead of making this obvious sacrifice for the health and well-being of others, concentration is on themselves. We all did what we needed to do to get through this and are being held back by the few. We didn’t put ourselves through this for us, we did it for you.
You could at least help.