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Alone, But Not Lonely

When the pandemic hit, this single editor, living alone and away from family, was diagnosed with COVID-19. She relied on her tribe to get her through.

This year was poised to be a year of tremendous promise in my personal life. In 2019, I’d snagged my dream job and ended a long-term relationship that no longer served me. Carrying that “new decade, new me” mantra with me everywhere, I believed that my life this year would maintain its same trajectory of good fortune.

When the novel coronavirus pandemic began to wreak havoc in the U.S. that all seemed to fade fast. As a resident New Yorker, not only was my city, job and lifestyle affected, but so was my health.

On Saturday, March 14th, after spending the night at a friend’s house, I returned home with a sore throat. I figured this was due to sleeping in her chilly apartment, so I tried to remedy it with hot tea and some rest. The next day, a dry cough followed. Then, body chills and rapidly decreasing energy. Each day I felt progressively worse, and with each symptom came the realization that this wasn’t just the flu.

Throughout that week, I continued to feel ill, but I was functioning. The symptoms were manageable with doses of Tylenol every six hours religiously, and I carried on working from home. My parents, who are in their early ‘60s, felt helpless and worried about me from 90 miles away in Hamden, Connecticut. During our daily FaceTime calls, my mother would comment on the dark circles under my eyes and thinning face.

I kept calm assuring her everything would be alright, even when I didn’t feel so sure. “All I can do is pray and ask God to cover you,” my mother would say, fighting back tears. After eight days of worsening symptoms, I had no doubt that COVID-19 was to blame.

Alone, But Not Lonely

Society does a good enough job making single women feel inadequate for not having a partner.

Jasmine Grant

On the scariest day of week two, I rose from my bed and felt a wave of hot flashes that struck me with panic. In a state of delirium, I jumped in a cold shower fully clothed to bring my temperature down. I was getting sicker over time, not better, and I knew that wasn’t normal. I had no choice but to visit a hospital. Thankfully, they examined me, tested me, then sent me back home.

Then the next day, I got a call confirming that I had tested positive for COVID-19. It wasn’t a shock by then, but it did put a lot of things in perspective for me. When you’re gravely ill, you’re not supposed to be alone.

While quarantined in the confines of my Brooklyn apartment, the only person available to take care of me was me. Society does a good enough job making single women feel inadequate for not having a partner, but nothing really drives the point home like a viral pandemic.

Even in the absence of a significant other to make me soup or help me out of bed in my weakest moments, having lived through coronavirus taught me just how loved and supported I really am. Calls and texts poured in daily from family, friends, and colleagues showing up for me.

Some even drove long distances just to bring me groceries. I was so touched. I am grateful to have recovered from COVID-19, and even more grateful that the universe reminded me that my tribe is rock solid.

The year is far from over, but perhaps the biggest lesson of 2020 is that come what may, my sisters and brothers have my back, and that’s an invaluable gift.