Probably by now, most of us have gone through the experience of coronavirus infection or have a close friend or relative affected by the pandemic. But as a second wave hits virtually every country on the planet, we all have a different experience depending on where we live and the circumstances we find ourselves in.

The pandemic has attacked my city so fiercely that the medical system has collapsed: lack of medicines, a shortage of doctors and nurses, no beds in the hospitals. There is anger, despair, and bare survival instinct. In many cases, people have to fend for themselves as there are not enough medical facilities or personnel available to help the number of people infected and sick.

For many, getting the virus is hardly noticeable and “not a big deal” experience. For others, it is more traumatic; for some, it is downright tragic.

We are all different and experience life through our own set of glasses. Here are some of the moments that offered lessons for me to learn through personal experience:

1-Maybe this is the last time?

I just had a fever at first, but once it ended, the COVID test was positive. Friends helped and found a place for me to go to the hospital on the same day. We called the chief doctor to ask if it was necessary to go right away; she answered: “The sooner, the better; I have seen some cases deteriorate so rapidly, it is better not to risk; come now.”

Starting to pack a small suitcase, I realized how little I needed for the trip I would take. I looked at all the clothes in my closet and realized how we came into this world with nothing, and when we go, we also leave with nothing!

Suddenly all my material possessions meant nothing.

Then, my wife and I looked at each other, and for a second that felt like an eternity, we thought: “What if this is it? What if I never come back?” We both hugged and cried. Suddenly all the familiarity was gone! All the little arguments and disagreements seemed so trivial; we felt the depth of love we had when we first got married. We clearly understood how much we loved and needed each other and how blessed we are to be together.

One and a half months passed before I could come back home. Five of those days, I was in intensive care in critical condition due to complications in my lungs and respiratory system.

Every day, my loving wife cared, prayed, and did everything she could to make sure I was getting proper medical attention. I was under the loving care of an Angel, and her faith never doubted for a second that I would return home to her arms.

“The greatest happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved; loved for ourselves, or rather, loved despite ourselves.”

2- Do we need to try to impress our close friends?

On the third of November, I thought about my upcoming birthday; business is slow because of the pandemic, so I was planning dinner at home with a small group of close friends.

Four days later, on November 7, I tested positive and was admitted to the hospital with COVID; I spent my birthday alone, eating a bowl of soup. But the phone calls, the messages, small videos, and the love I received that day from my friends - especially those I was planning to impress with a nice dinner - was overwhelming.

Then I understood then how blessed I am to have such friends - who love me for who I am, not what I have. The love of true friends goes beyond status, material possessions, profession, or age.

“Don’t worry about people’s opinions; your job is to love them, not to impress them.”

3-The 50/50 night.

The worst night, I was alone in my room; the oxygen machine was ancient and giving very little air. There were 70 patients on the COVID hospital floor I was on, and only one nurse on duty for everyone for the night. I felt hopeless!

Doctors were few; they were also getting sick. There was a shortage of nurses. They called third-year medical students to work with little preparation of what to do, and all medical centers were operating above their capacity.

As I fought for every breath, I felt like I was 50% here and 50% on the other side, with no one to call for help. I understood what I had known intellectually for many years, and that finally became crystal clear: In the end, the things we consider so important in our lives mean very little. The only things that really count as you think about your life on earth are:

1- The love you gave; 2- The love you failed to give.

The next morning they finally checked on me and moved me to intensive care, where I slowly and surely started on the long road to recovery for my lungs and respiratory system. I will be a better man now because my priorities have definitely changed. I will spend more time giving away my love and helping my fellow man.

Someone asked me later if I was afraid to die? My honest answer was no. Not because I am so brave, but just because I believe in God, and there is no fear in love.

My main preoccupation was my personal family; I felt they were not ready to be on their own. I also thought about all the things that I had left undone, what I wanted to finish - my contribution to the world.

Love is perhaps the only glimpse we are permitted of eternity.”

4-The treasure of love and friendship:

The best Navy Seal soldiers are not the strongest or smartest, but the ones you know you can count on in times of danger.

We all have our fears, but courage comes when you know someone has your back! When you know you are not alone, you have people who love you and support you in difficult times.

We are social animals! We are meant to live together, laugh together, help, and love each other. Together we stand, divided we fall!

I am very grateful for the love and support of an amazing wife, the loving interactions with my daughters, and the love and concern of family and friends.

I rediscovered the treasure I have in my life. It’s easy to be friends in the good times, but it is during the hard and difficult times where friendship is tested. I give thanks to everyone who supported us with love and care during this difficult time.

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched - they must be felt with the heart.”

With a great sense of appreciation and gratitude for God, family, and friends - I send you all much love.
Vitin Landivar