You know those questions you get asked sometimes? The ones like, where were you when JFK got shot, or where were you when the Twin Towers fell? As for me, I wasn’t born when Kennedy was president. I was in Spanish class when I heard about the World Trade Center. I didn’t even know what that was or where, but it didn’t take long to figure out it was a big deal, and it took me a long time to get over the emotional toll of it.

I think someday there’ll be some kind of question like that about the coronavirus, and I’ll remember a lot about it.

In the weeks leading up to when it changed things here in the states, I was in my car quite a bit driving back and forth to my parents’ house while our house was being fixed. NPR news was fixated on the coronavirus in China. But things were normal here, and I guess I thought in a way it would be like Ebola in Africa or something. It didn’t really settle in my brain at first that things would ever change here, because they hadn’t before. I mean, we’d had Zika, West Nile, the Swine Flu. I remembered people making a big deal of those things, but they never affected our day to day too much. But then, I started to have a bad feeling about it.

One thing led to another and there we were in the middle of March.

I remember our last normal day.

We picked Mama up, because I had a few errands to run. I went to sign the boy up for Mother’s Day Out. I had a feeling things were fixing to change. I’d already started obsessing over COVID news.  Mama and the boy went in Tractor Supply and he bought a pair of boots that were two sizes too big. He wore them all spring. Maybe part of the summer. I just remember they were in tatters when we threw them out.  As they got back in the car I remember thinking it might be the last time he got to go anywhere for a while.

That was that.

 All the stores were already out of hand sanitizer and most of them out of toilet paper. The state shut down, and everything began revolving around the next two weeks.

“I’m not going anywhere for two weeks,” I said. “We’re not going to see any one for two weeks.” You get the idea.

Two weeks of change turned into a year and now here we are.

There were times when things were extreme, and we didn’t see anybody or go anywhere at all. We used hand sanitizer religiously and thought COVID germs were on everything we touched from mail to groceries. And there were times when we wore masks and visited outside and a few times when we said to heck with it and went on in the house with family.

Maybe it’s almost behind us now. Maybe someday it will be a distant memory and we’ll find ourselves asking, “Hey, where were you when the coronavirus changed everything?”

Danielle Wallingsford Kirkland is a former Sentinel staff writer and correspondent. She can be reached at

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