By Seneca Moraleda-Puguan

In South Korea, we are fortunate to not undergo lockdown or community quarantine. My husband can still go to work and we still have the freedom to go outside. We are just encouraged to wear masks and practice social distancing. But we have decided to limit our outdoor activities to prevent our children from contracting the virus. We haven’t been going to the grocery as a family like we used to, only my husband does the shopping. Our weekly trips to the park and the church have also been cancelled temporarily. I am running out of activities for my 4-year-old daughter. She has been asking for us to bring her to a kid’s café, to the park or to the supermarket. All we can answer her is “next time, when there’s no more virus.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has really changed the dynamics of our everyday lives. It has also ruined so many plans, not just of our family, but also of many million people around the world. We have been praying to go to Nice, France in October for my daughter’s and my birthday, but it has been on hold.

I can go on and on ranting about how this pandemic has affected our lives. But looking at my healthy children stuck at home, protected by roof on their heads and nourished by food on our table, the complaints in my heart are replaced by gratitude. My family has the chance to be together while so many families around the world have been separated by this virus. We have the privilege to gather and enjoy sumptuous meals but such is not the case for many because they don’t have food on their tables. Many have lost jobs. We can laugh together, share stories with each other and enjoy each other’s company while there are a lot of families who are mourning and grieving the loss of loved ones who succumbed to the virus. I am grateful to be able to hug and kiss my children while many frontline workers can only kiss their children from afar or even online in order to protect them. 

This pandemic has opened my eyes to the beauty of simple things and the wonder of sobering moments. It has taught my soul to be grateful for the beautiful relationships that I have been blessed with. It has softened my heart to have compassion towards others. The COVID-19 virus has encouraged me to appreciate every waking moment and the air that I breathe.

For those who think it’s tyranny to be asked to stay home, I hope you think about those who want to be home with their families but cannot. To those who clamor for freedom and the right to a job, I feel you, but I hope you think about those people who are vulnerable to the disease and those who have lost not only their jobs and freedom, but their precious lives. To those who are complaining about not being able to have a haircut, or enjoy their spring break or spend time with their friends, please look at the people who have their loved ones taken away from them by this unforgiving virus. COVID-19 has taken something away from us, all of us–for some, their plans; and for others, their jobs. For some people, the virus stole their freedom; but for many, their lives. This virus is not a lie. For those who have lost loved ones, it’s a reality that they can only hope is a nightmare. 

This is not the time to just think about ourselves and our own welfare. This is the time we must look out for our neighbors. It’s not just about me. It’s about us. It’s about we. Only together will we be able to overcome and defeat this unseen enemy. It’s not just my own freedom I am fighting for; it’s our freedom as a whole community from the grip of this virus that has caused the world to be on its knees. As we all struggle and find our way out of this difficult season we are all in, it is my prayer that we will all have the right perspective, not inward but outward-looking.

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