By Devlin Harris ‘21

“Dear Students,

Brother Rice High School classes will be cancelled on Monday, March 16, and the school will transition to an eLearning format from Tuesday, March 17, through Friday, March 27. Although Brother Rice continues to be free from suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19, we are taking precautions to limit crowd gatherings for the safety of our students and community.” – Principal Bob Alberts

When I received this email on March 13, I was excited. I couldn’t help but think that this was just an early spring break. I did not know anyone who had COVID-19 or had possibly come in contact with COVID-19. This was about to change. Little did I know that my early spring break was about to turn into three weeks of misery and anguish.

On Monday, March 16, my father arrived home from work with a message. He called my family together into my living room and told us that his building was shutting down and going remote, but that he was required to go in on Tuesday to pick up the remainder of his belongings. He went in on Tuesday to retrieve his stuff and get a laptop he could use at home. On Friday he received the message. One of his coworkers had just been admitted into an intensive care unit and had many of the symptoms of COVID-19. He was required to quarantine for two weeks.

This was the beginning.

The fear that I felt when he told us was something I had never felt before. Everyone in my family has asthma. The only thought racing through my head was I might lose a parent. I might lose a parent. I might lose a parent. Like a race car zooming around a track over and over again. It was a daunting thought. It stuck with me a few days. Then came the day my dad began to feel ill.

On that day, I was far less afraid. It was a strange feeling. I did not fear it. I was certain I would get it, too. I was, in a way, ready for it. My dad’s first symptom was shortness of breath. My dad said,  “My chest felt extremely tight. It was like someone had strapped a belt around me as tightly as they could and they were not letting go.” Then as his symptoms worsened, it spread to me. I began to feel what he was feeling. It was nothing like asthma. It was relentless.

Within the next few days, my symptoms worsened. Walking up stairs became a chore. It was exhausting. My dad, who within the last month had ridden over 50 miles during one bike ride, could not muster the strength to walk up 16 stairs and had to sleep in his work room. I constantly felt fatigued like I had just finished punishment sprints at the end of soccer practice. It never bothered my asthma. I did not use my inhaler a single time. Asthma is unpleasant. COVID-19 is a nightmare.

My mother started getting symptoms as my father and I began improving. We were very worried for her. Typically when we get sick, she gets it the worst. It was frightening to watch her. She could not breathe well at all. She was on the verge of going to the hospital, but she wanted to give it one more day to see if it kept getting worse.

It did not.

My neighbors and friends were incredibly supportive of us through it all. They would drop off food and medicine. They would still talk with us. We stayed inside and opened a window in our front room and would talk through that. It was amazing that they still cared for us despite us being plague ridden.

COVID-19 was an experience unlike any other. Having had it, I can say that it lives up to the hype. It is brutal. However, I am glad I went through it. I can say that I went head to head with a global pandemic, and I beat it!