Leaving Campus and Losing a Sanctuary
Well, that happened. Everything had a routine, every bit of normalcy felt in my actions throughout the day. Even when late in February, Dad told the family that my grandmother was in hospice, I maintained my composure. She was 99, and while hospice is no doubt depressing, we could still visit her. The woman had survived immigrating from Germany, the Great Depression, WW2, breaking a hip, pneumonia, and my father’s horrible jokes. I believed she still had another miracle in her.
Then came Thursday before spring break, and my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer - “probably the most treatable kind, the chemo should get rid of it, it seems very promising.” All the same, it was a shock that rumbled through my world long after my phone call with her had ended that Thursday night, leaving me to sit in disbelief in the Walsh hallway. It would be alright though, the family always pulls through.
I went home that weekend to take care of my father, ask how he was doing. His mom was still in hospice, and his wife recently diagnosed with cancer at the age of 64. He was left home alone, 73, while my mom continued to work, only eating a handful of pistachios for dinner each night. “I’m trying to lose weight,” he would say. I prepped him some meals and leftovers for the week, visited Grandma, and took the bus back to school for training. We had a competition the coming weekend.
Being at school was like hiding from the rest of the world, a sanctuary filled with distractions from everything else. My friends and I went out, I watched the Bachelor with my roommates, (Madison could do better), focused on school work. There were weekly runs to White mountain, and music constantly bumping through Walsh and the mods. Even with everything going on with the family, and the worry I had for them, I held on to the routine being on a college campus offered.
Fast forward to now, where I’m sitting at the desk in my cousin’s room of my aunt’s house, taking notes from online lectures. I couldn’t go home, not with my mother starting chemo soon and my father being older - their immune systems are just not as strong. Don’t get me wrong, it’s quiet and nice here, a wonderful place to focus on schoolwork. But my family and I can’t visit my Grandma, for fear of spreading the virus to her or other residents of her assisted living. I can no longer go upstairs when I’m feeling stressed to ask my friends if they want to get White Mountain. There’s no training with the team, no group breakfasts or blends of different music flowing through my window. The distractions and sanctuary the BC campus had offered have practically disappeared, at least for now.
However, the bags under my eyes have slowly begun to fade, as I’ve been able to catch up on sleep instead of going out with friends, (sometimes the fomo was too real to ignore, no matter how tired I was). My hour-long walks through my aunt's neighborhood have proved relaxing and meditative. And the meals are definitely better than anything Lower could offer, (like the fresh blueberry scones made from scratch for breakfast, or the grilled swordfish with lemon for dinner). It’s certainly not the same as living with all my friends, who have now scattered to different corners of the world, but there’s a certain level of peace to the quietness.
I acknowledge these upsides, and appreciate the pause I’ve been given to reflect on what has happened in such a short amount of time. It’s given me appreciation for my friends and my family. This is something the whole world is going through together, and though it’s sometimes easy to feel alone when it’s quiet and when your friends and family can’t be there in person, we can still find peace in the quiet, and feel united from afar. And hopefully, we’ll remember what we’ve learned in this time when the long-awaited moment comes to return to campus.