RIO DE JANEIRO — As a child, my favourite holiday was Easter. My family would gather, my mother would serve delicious dishes and an amazing dessert. But 2020 brought the worst Easter I ever had.
That Sunday morning, my father showed symptoms of coronavirus. A few days later, he tested positive for COVID-19. Not long afterward, so did I. I had returned to Brazil in March from Humber College where I study journalism.
My father was taking the pandemic seriously. At 58 with breathing problems, he was part of the high-risk demographic. So when I arrived home, I had to isolate for 14 days in my bedroom, leaving only to go to the bathroom.
I was desperate to hug my parents. I hadn’t seen them in months. They were so near yet so far. But the thought of infecting them ensured I obeyed the rules.
After two long weeks, which I spent taking online classes and eating a lot, I showed no symptoms, so I was freed from quarantine. Life was back to normal.
Or so I thought.
The night before Easter, two days after my father had left the house to go to the bank, he began to feel ill. He felt cold and had a dry cough. We thought it was just the flu.
Things were worse Easter morning when he woke up with a fever and body ache. He spent the day in bed.
For our traditional Easter lunch, there were only three of us sitting at the dining table. My young cousins weren’t there screaming. My grandpa wasn’t telling his funny stories. It was just my dad, my mom, and me, all of us sad and worried.
For the next three days, my Dad ached and was feverish. So he decided to take the coronavirus test.
It was Wednesday morning when the doctor arrived at our house, wearing protective clothes that made him look like an astronaut. He put a long cotton swab inside my father’s nose and throat. I saw my father’s eyes tear up a bit.
The next morning, he felt better. But I woke up feeling awful.
My first symptoms were tiredness, sore throat, and headache. My whole body hurt. No position or pill made the pain go away. The next morning, I woke up feeling even worse and spent the day in bed.
But when I started feeling better I convinced myself, again, that my father and I just had the flu. I started to question that conviction when I realized I couldn’t taste or smell anything.
My father’s coronavirus test result arrived.
“Positive,” he told us.
It was like the whole world stopped for a second. It was too late to isolate my father or me, so we decided to isolate ourselves from everyone outside of the house, even though my mom and my sister had no symptoms.
We checked in daily with doctors. We had called Rio’s 24-hour phone line for medical advice when my father showed his symptoms. They regularly called our house to check up.
A month later, my mother, my sister, and I took a blood test to see if we had been infected by COVID-19. We weren’t shocked that my test was positive. But we were surprised to learn my mother and my sister hadn’t been infected.
My family was blessed to get through our COVID-19 experience and are doing fine. But Brazil is one of the globe’s coronavirus hot spots. And too many Brazilians were not as lucky.