Dear niece Athena Amari,
Perhaps 20 years from now you will come across this column of your uncle and grasp the meaning of what is written.
Let me begin by telling you why this letter has to be made public when norms dictate that communication between sender and receiver are best kept private, especially when the matter is private or personal.
You have to understand that I am a journalist by profession and I carry the duty of informing people so that they can make informed choices at the end of the day. The information may even save lives.
I am telling the story of what you and your mother Mel went through during the pandemic. This is in a way a sort of a survivor story of a toddler who battled two dreaded viruses. Your survivor story will be someone else’s guidebook too, I hope.
You had contracted the dreaded COVID-19 virus when you were barely a year old. So imagine the scare, even panic, from your father Anthony who just like the rest of us can only watch from afar and not in close proximity physically to check on you. All we can do is check both of you virtually since you and your mom were confined in a quarantine facility.
It all began when your dad called us to inform that you had contracted the mosquito borne disease dengue which is life threatening and that you had to be rushed to the hospital. Health protocols required a COVID-19 test before hospital admission. Since your Mom was caring for you, she also had to undergo the test.
The test results yielded positive for the virus for you and your Mom. Only your dad was spared. So it’s a double lethal dose of viruses – Dengue plus Covid-19. The pandemic by then was still raging across the globe, bringing so much tragedy and misery to many lives, young, old, rich, poor, and just about anyone was hit by the virus.
It was already the second year of the pandemic. Extreme measures and utmost care were adopted just so we can avoid contracting it even when you were still in your mother’s womb. Dengue, we all know is carried by mosquito – a threat you can fight with repellants, insecticides, ensuring a clean surrounding and everything else that can be done to avoid the dengue-carrying mosquito. But Covid- 19 is a kind of threat that was almost impossible to combat. A medical breakthrough found a way to maybe equip us humans with a fighting chance to battle this pandemic with the roll out of vaccines.
At the time of your illness, the country had not yet completed vaccinating the majority of the population to achieve herd immunity. The vaccine wasn’t authorized for toddlers like you. So we were at a loss. I kept on calling on your parents to check on your status. Not even your Dad can visit you in the facility to avoid the risk of getting the virus. We got a little bit of relief when your mom said your platelets had stabilized after a series of blood tests. This was maybe on the first two days of your ordeal. That’s what we hoped for, you managed to hurdle the dengue, now the virus was what we had to deal with next.
“Kuya, I already shed all my tears, “ your helpless Dad said. I understood his panic. You are the first born child. I told him that I would gladly donate all my blood if you need it to survive. I told him to be strong for you and your Mom.
It’s been over a week now and you and your mom are finally rid of the virus. This is a survivor story that you will be able to share to young parents and toddlers when the time comes. You survived the two life threatening viruses, Athena. This is a hard lesson for many that nobody comes out alive in this life unscathed. So while we breathe, love and have genuine care in our hearts, we remain hopeful that we ride to the glory days of our lives, just like what your parents and elders demonstrated during those harrowing episode in your life. Sorry you came to this world at the time of a global pandemic, something even us in our generation had never anticipated. But we won’t stop protecting you and your generation in navigating these difficult times.
I hope you will impart this learning too when your time comes.
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