COVID-19 in the U.S.A.: A mom’s story about living in America during the pandemic

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It’s been about five months since life as we once knew it, has been turned upside down, the world over.

In New York, the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, numbers were rising insurmountably by the day. We talked to a Filipino mom living in Jersey City, New Jersey, about how living there in this pandemic is like. 

Vida and her husband, Mar wearing the masks she made everywhere they go.

Vida Mesina, her husband of five years, and their four daughters from a blended marriage, have been living in the U.S. for more than fifteen years now. “Life has been very kind to our family,” Vida says. “We have always managed to work around our schedules and the situations of the kids. They are well adjusted young ladies,” she adds.

Not seeing my daughters

“For a family so used to moving around, living in different cities and adjusting to changes, this pandemic and all its circumstances came as a shock.” she quipped. 

Vida and her family

“It was really hard for everybody especially the children. My daughter Christa was graduating Cum Laude this year. All of a sudden, schooling was done remotely, and then they shut down the university. The excitement of graduation vanished into thin air. The experience of seeing my daughter wearing her graduation gown, hearing her name being announced as the 2020 BS Biology Cum Laude, were reduced to a virtual event,” Vida says sadly. Like many parents whose kids missed a real graduation ceremony this year, Vida consoled her daughter and told her to look on the bright side “One day you will look back on this experience and have stories to tell.”

It was tough for her stepchildren too as they were not able to enjoin the family because of the lockdown orders. They had to wait for the orders to be lifted before they were able to reunite as a family.

Change of plans

One of the ghastly effects of this pandemic is the sudden cancellation of everything because nothing came with a warning or notice. Travel restrictions were put in place on top of lockdown orders. 

“When the virus started to spread in the Tri-state area (New York , New Jersey and Connecticut), we got hit pretty bad since Jersey City is only about five miles away from New York City. We knew people who died from the virus, friends who got the virus and thankfully recovered. It was too much for us to handle knowing that the city was not the safest place to be. My husband and I had to move to Maryland temporarily,” Vida shares. The anxiety of knowing that there is no cure, seeing the Tri-state area so badly affected, knowing that it can be transmitted easily even through food was more than enough to scare them off.

Fighting back

Vida took matters into her own hands and decided that she would fight back best way a mother knew how which was to protect her kids. Hand sanitizers, disinfectants, etc. were once so common and practically nonessential before COVID-19, but they are now prime commodities. Masks were so difficult to come by and when they did, it was very expensive.

Some of the masks that Vida makes which are CDC-compliant

“I contacted Center for Disease Control (CDC) and started making compliant fabric masks. The sewing machine my husband bought for me years ago was finally put to good use. I donated masks, sent masks to my daughters, friends from other states and handed them out even to people I do not know. I continue to make masks while receiving support from friends,” Vida narrates.

Moving forward

After a few months passed, the lockdowns have been eased in the Tri-state area. But the fact remains that cases all over the U.S. have continued to rise and the healthcare systems suffering. Does this sound familiar?

Vida and her family slowly went on to explore rivers, trying to find the most secluded ones, and reconnected back to nature under the grim circumstances. She saw some kids playing and jumping into the rivers and seeing how they enjoyed something that seems so simple these days, reminded her of her childhood in Laguna.

Connecting to nature. One of the hidden gems Vida and her family visited, Natural Bridge State Park in Virginia.

“If anything, the pandemic taught me how to do good and to show compassion, and to encourage others to do the same. This pandemic brought so much anguish to a lot of us. Nevertheless, I will continue to enjoy the brighter side of things and to be thankful that life is still good to most of us. Instead of travelling far and away, we will continue to explore the hidden gems of the Tri-state area, of course while following the safety protocols,” she beams.

Life today is more chaotic, more so in the mind because our thoughts are plagued with uncertainty of the future and fear of a deadly disease. With the hundreds of thousand of news (real or fake) about COVID-19 going around each and everyday, parents like you and me are anxious for our children, our livelihoods, our health and what tomorrow will bring.