Courtesy of Alma Hernandez
I had heard about the word quarantine; did I know what it means? No, I didn’t know the real meaning; until I experienced it first hand during this pandemic. My quarantine has been quite complicated. In the beginning, staying at home and not having to work or go to school for a few days seemed promising; not so much now. When the shelter-in-place went into effect in California, my two daughters came from San Luis Obispo and Merced respectively, to stay at home for quarantine. However, a few days after, I experienced the loss of a brother who lived in Mexico. I felt divided between going for his funeral, by myself, or staying at home with my children and husband for quarantine.
Traveling internationally was challenging. The bleak feeling of leaving my family in quarantine, and my grief, were driving me insane. My brother died of a myocardial attack; therefore, it was unexpected. My hometown of Guadalajara, just as we are here, is in quarantine; that made things very difficult. The funeral had to be hosted at my mother’s home since all funeral homes were closed. No more than 10 people could stay at a time accompanying the body. He was well known in his neighborhood and had a lot of friends. They all had to make a line to say goodbye to him rather than congregate all at the same time. Burials were not allowed, and we had to have him cremated. The whole funeral was an ordeal, and the feeling of helplessness washed over me. I thought about all the things we can’t control, and how our lives have changed in a short time. It was then when I started thinking of the families that are grieving for their loved ones, the ones they have lost to the virus. I cried for them too. The indecision to stay or come back was a constant internal debate I had; my mother in one country and my family in another. It was then when I wished to be able to be in two places at once.
My husband and children were waiting for me to come back home, well and healthy. I passed the screening at the airport, and came back home to quarantine again. I was finally back home with my family. I clung to them for the safety and love I needed during my grieving. I knew that I needed to recover and support my children and husband. I forced myself to keep going.
Fortunately, my husband kept his wine-technician job; I wasn’t that lucky because I lost mine. My son, Omar, is a senior in high school, and now he won’t have graduation; he won’t have the opportunity to experience it. He will have a drive-through celebration, which is vastly different than the graduation we had all been looking forward to. Nevertheless, our family will be cheering him on during the celebration. Soon, he will be on his way to college.
On the positive side, we all are together trying to make the best of this time. We talk, we eat, we laugh, and we love each other. We attend classes online, and I get help from my children with aspects of technology I didn’t understand before. This quarantine and the loss of my brother have taught me the value of time; time that I wasn’t aware I was letting run by like water through my fingers. They are my family, and I know we have each other to support and help one another. But most importantly, we have the greatest love for each other that will help us get through this pandemic.
Mother of three wonderful children and a SRJC ESL student.