This letter was written during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 as part of Dear Covid-19. Though some of the events and details in this letter may have changed since then, we hope to remember those in our community who stepped up when it mattered most.

Dear COVID-19,

You know the seven stages of grief you go through when mourning the loss of a relationship, a loved one or even your favourite comic book store you used to frequent as a teenager?

Well, dealing with your jarring, persistent and most of all, unwelcome presence has kind of been like that. Just double down on the feelings of disbelief and anger. I mean, it’s one thing to read about your kind in books, but it’s another to witness your ravaging nature in ways that hit so close to home.

I hate how you’ve shuttered businesses that have stood the test of time. Watching a friend break down as he spoke about preparing retrenchment letters for his staff, some of whom had worked with him for over 20 years, was especially excruciating given that we’re both in the business of putting food on people’s plates.

I hate the fear you’ve instilled in those closest to me. Being responsible for the livelihoods of just under 200 individuals, just the thought of failing them was enough to send me hurling into a toilet bowl multiple times a night. I hate how you’ve turned my sanctuary from gruelling work days into a place I now seek refuge from. Where does my bedroom start, and the office end? It’s anyone’s guess.

But what good is hate? The last stage of grief is acceptance, and that’s where I am at. Because with acceptance, comes hope. Now I am not just saying this in an attempt to have an uplifting bookend for what is sure to be a chaotic chapter in the lives of several, myself included. But because, if there’s anything I have experienced firsthand these last few months, it is that optimism is a powerful weapon.

So with that, I thank you. Thank you for keeping me grounded, literally. Work travel had become such a big part of my life, that quality time with family was something I often craved. Thank you for reminding me that I work with an incredible team that is resilient. Pivoting a business we’ve spent under a decade building from the ground up takes courage and decisiveness, but we made it happen.

Thank you for reminding me of my privilege. I am safe, surrounded by love, and want for nothing – ensuring that many more are able to be blessed with the same is a fight that’s worth pursuing.

So while it’s difficult to celebrate something that’s taken so much, I will choose to remember you for what you’ve afforded me.

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