My birthday is January 7. In Brazil, the school year ends in the beginning of December, which is when summer vacation starts, and it returns in February. It’s common for families to travel during the holidays, my family included, so I would spend all of my birthdays with my family. Even though I wanted to have some fun with friends, I learned to love spending my birthdays with them. As time went by, I started going out with friends: not on the 7th, but some days later. My birthday itself became for family only.
After the pandemic hit, I wasn’t able to see my family, and when my university decided to go online in November 2020, I saw it as an opportunity. I hadn’t seen my parents and my sister in 10 months; it was the first time that I had ever spent that much time away. Returning home in November was great. I had a really good two months with my family. However, the peace broke when, on January 4, my father tested positive for COVID-19.
Fortunately, my father had mild symptoms, but he had to quarantine for 14 days. The rest of the family tested negative twice, but we wore masks at home for prevention because we still had to properly deliver his food to his room and pick up his clothes to wash. We had our meals and stayed most of the time in our bedrooms. My mother slept in our living room so my father could quarantine in their bedroom. The anxiety of not knowing if he was going to be well and if any of us were going to be infected was huge. In a time that we were meant to support each other, we end up staying far apart for health precautions.
On January 7, we sang happy birthday with my father on WhatsApp video while the rest of the family was wearing masks. Even though I was sad and our anxiety level was high, I thought to myself that it could have been worse. At least I was physically near them and was able to enjoy some cake with my family.