Lit Mag Short Fiction

A Senior’s Sincere Story: The Pandemic

In the midst of a pandemic, many of us (including myself) have had a hard time coping with the consequences and yearned for some words of the wiser. Our world seemed to turn upside down so suddenly, and we weren’t ready for such a frightening change. I had the opportunity to FaceTime a 74-year-old senior and interview him to inquire about his perspective and learn from his life story.
I first asked him about his experience in quarantine. He emphasized that it was incredibly difficult to have liberties taken away. We all understand how difficult it is to be locked up, and the mental health effects can be detrimental. However, he highlighted that this time is a fantastic opportunity to practice mindfulness. This is one of the rare occurrences in which people can truly take out the time to focus on themselves and improve their mental health. There are many considerable health benefits of mindfulness, including better sleep, lower stress levels, and banishing temporary negative feelings. 
This man has had a significant amount of life experience, which has empowered him to give advice to others. He kindly shared with me the many life lessons he’s learned. He told me about the importance of living without negativity. He illuminates that surrounding yourself with negativity, especially in times like these, is a “recipe for disaster.” He also described that this experience is just another “bus stop” in life. There are many hardships people face over the years, and it is important to persevere through them and come out stronger. 
I too am a senior- a senior in high school. I have been devastated about having so many experiences, such as my prom, graduation, and the rest of high school, taken away. Of course, we do hope to reschedule some of these events after the impacts of the virus have diminished, but that does not change that our end-of-senior-year experience is forever changed. 
I asked him for some advice on how to cope with this loss. He honestly replied that his advice would be to “get over it.” While this advice may sound blunt, the truth is that taking his advice could potentially help many of us. Even though this is a significant loss, it probably won’t be the biggest loss we experience in our lives. As disappointed as I am about missing out on so many important events, I have to remind myself that there are many people who have it way worse, including people who have lost loved ones, those in financially difficult positions, and people who are now trapped in toxic family or relationship dynamics. His advice really helped me put things in perspective. 
He emphasized that he also understands how difficult it is to miss out on senior year’s classic traditions and events. When he was my age, he was drafted into the Vietnam War. Even though his experience in the war was incredibly difficult and strenuous, he came out of it stronger. He has had many challenging life experiences that have made him resilient. He lost his son when he was 33 years old- a loss that continues to hurt him. Hearing his life story helped me understand that hardships are a part of life. We all experience moments that are heartbreaking and distressing. However, every time one of us braves through misfortune, we become more hopeful and ambitious. 
His past experiences, though difficult, have helped him cope with the current situation. He lives in an elderly home, which helps him feel less isolated. He appreciates the company of other seniors and remains positive, describing that “things could be worse.” He strives to enjoy the rest of his life by focusing on mindfulness and positivity, and he is not going to let this virus stop him from doing so. Interviewing this man was inspiring and emotional, and it helped me realize the importance of remaining grateful and optimistic through these challenging times. Through dedication and perseverance, we will come out of this pandemic stronger than ever before. 

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