How quarantine and isolation affected me

Sr. Veronica Madziva, OP
Dominican Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Zimbabwe

I was in quarantine in March for fourteen days when I came back from Washington DC and in August for another fourteen days soon after my eight days of retreat. I had  prepared myself for the first quarantine, knowing how vulnerable my community is but I still felt the pinch because I wanted to share my experience of DC with the sisters while my mind could still recall the events. The second time I was in quarantine was terrible.  I had mixed feelings during those days because I could not share my experience of the retreat. I was affected psychologically, emotionally, and socially. Although I kept myself busy with my studies, I felt very lonely because I could not socialize with my community members and could not see them too. I envisioned so many people living in isolation with no one to visit them. I imagined a patient diagnosed with COVID-19 left to die alone in hospital or at home because people are afraid to get infected.  Yes, I could exercise in my room to keep myself fit but I needed to go out and feel the breeze. I imagined myself dying of COVID-19 in the US where I am currently, for my studies, and being buried with no one to view my body?. 

My most enduring memory of this time

My most enduring memory is this whole year of my studies in the US where staying in my room most of the time has become a norm I am not used to. I had not thought that I would have such an experience where I would be confined to one place, controlled by COVID 19. I will have to endure the pain of not being able to socialize and celebrate life, the pain of isolation yet there are people around, and above all, the pain of not knowing all my sisters in the community by their names. 

Wearing a mask every day to protect me and my neighbour is memorable for me. I would not have imagined that one day I would cover my face with a mask that makes me uncomfortable and gasp for more air.  Another memory to endure is praying without singing, not coming together as a whole community for the Eucharistic celebrations, big feasts and even meals. I must live without all this and be creative when I pray alone in my room. My failure to be with a sick relative/ Sister or friend is the worst memory because I cannot express how much I care about a relative or my Sister in the house or in hospital. It is worse still when I hear that the person has died. I feel COVID-19 has become a remote control. So many questions and thoughts occupy my mind every day as I live with the reality that this pandemic has taken my ‘keys’ of freedom. I know that I am not alone in this, but one cannot avoid these thoughts. All I can ask God is to strengthen my faith in the midst of this confusion.

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