The Year of the Pandemic and our Growing Edge Reflections from WCSAP's Advocacy Coordinator

Our resilience, tenacity and hope push us forward in each step we take.  As it did for our parents, grandparents, and ancestors before us.

One year later, many family members lost to COVID-19 deaths, and you and I remain. We grieve for our brothers and sisters who are no longer with us and we celebrate their beautiful lives and the fighters they were.  One of my sister in law’s favorite phrases was “faith over fear”; and that is how she lived her life until her last breath.  She and my brother passed away at the exact same second in a Yakima Hospital with their daughter by their side while I was in their home with my niece, their 53-year-old special needs, amazing daughter.

This is one story of many-- too many.  As I write  this, the current statistic for Yakima is 440 deaths due to COVID-19. But, one of my favorite phrases  is “I want to become better from this, not bitter”. I have gained strength I never knew existed inside of me before the 120 nights I spent in Yakima away from my home; caring for my brother who was home for one week, and taking care of my niece. I stayed until all of their family business was taken care of.

When the Pandemic hit I began to have nightmares-- was that a premonition of what our family was going to experience in the next few months?  Our intuition is so strong.  It is one of our best advocate tools. 

Advocates have huge hearts and I love that about us. I want us to ensure that the love we give to others so generously we give to ourselves first.

It is one year later and what are we taking from this experience? 

We have been through trauma as a global community. In this, we all have a baseline understanding of one another’s experience. We are all forever changed by the possibility of pandemic and the innovation of adapting to that pandemic. 

And for so many Indigenous, Black, and Brown communities, the impact of the pandemic has been much greater. They are disproportionately represented among essential workers and industries. Tracy Wright reminded us during WCSAP’s Communities of Color Gathering of the old adage, “when white folks catch a cold, Black folks get pneumonia.” 

How can we provide support to those in our agencies who have been impacted most? 

Having grace for one another is vital, now more than ever. We cannot dismiss what we have all been through and must practice patience and compassion.

My family had two double funerals in the space of a month with face masks and social distancing.  We air hugged each other in such a painful time.  We take step after step together, doing what has to be done.

I am holding a picture of my brother, Conrado and sister in law Rosa in the picture in our latest issue of Connections. They were a beautiful couple, always holding hands and enjoying each other and their family.

It’s not over. Globally, COVID-19 statistics show 3,002,154 deaths, in the United States: 571,000 deaths and in Washington state: 5,427 COVID-19 deaths at the time of this writing.

It’s Spring 2021 and I feel a more magnified joy in my heart than I’ve ever felt.  I’m really happy to be alive, healthy and strong and I’m grieving the many family members that have transitioned from this life. 

Our Mother Earth and other sentient beings are thriving more beautifully than they have in a long time.  No thanks to us and what we have done to the Earth and Nature that we are a part of.  This is our home; the only home we have. What have we learned about caring for her?

I congratulate each of you for continuing your journey so valiantly in such challenging times. We are amazing, we are united, and we continue our good work together with new eyes like never before.

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