Community Health

COVID-19: A Personal Experience

Debi Johnston - COVID-19: A Personal Experience
Written by ip Staff Report

“The one thing that I have learned through all of this, is that time is precious, life is fleeting, and you must spend time with the ones you love when you can.”

By Debbie Johnston

“To understand how the COVID-19 pandemic  has affected my family we have to go back to the beginning. I am the general manager of the Reserve Event Center here in Longview. Being in business for over 13 years, we have hosted many events including weddings, birthday parties, and corporate events. That all came to a screeching halt in March 2020, as much as everything else in the world did.

“We faced challenges we could not have even imagined in our wildest dreams. Our business literally shut down overnight because we could not gather any longer due to the virus. It was very difficult to watch years of hard work slip through our fingers. Every day seemed like an eternity when you have brides calling and canceling, new guidelines coming out from the CDC, local and state officials. It was extremely stressful and frustrating trying to figure out how to shift the business model to where we could survive, continue on, pay the bills, and still make some kind of income to support our families.  By the Grace of our Lord and Savior we survived, overcome, and are back better than ever.

“I will never forget though how this virus has affected many families and destroyed many lives. Sadly, the virus took its toll on my family in more ways than one. As many of us, I had elderly parents who I did not get to see very often, even though we lived in the same town and not far from each other. I would constantly go visit them through the screen of their house, because I was so terrified of possibly giving them the virus. Little did I know that this would be the last year with my parents.

“In December, my mother-in-law came down with the virus. She fought hard for over three weeks, was hospitalized and, luckily, survived. To this day she still struggles with the effects of the virus.

“Then tragedy struck. My mother who had been battling breast cancer for the last few years and was winning, fell in her house and broke her hip. She had to have surgery to repair this and subsequently was sent to a rehab facility. Unfortunately, she contracted the virus while in the facility. She fought hard and actually beat the virus only for us to find out that the effects of the virus caused her breast cancer to metastasize literally overnight. My mother came home from the hospital and died three days later on January 20th 2021 at her home, with her husband, my father of whom she was married to almost 57 years. Shortly thereafter my father was diagnosed with lung cancer and he sadly passed away on April 29, 2021.

“The virus almost destroyed my life’s work and left a devastating hole in my family. I cherish what I do daily, the people that I meet, the experiences I have and what I do. I pray that we never see anything like this again. I always try to learn something from every experience in life. The one thing that I have learned through all of this, is that time is precious, life is fleeting, and you must spend time with the ones you love when you can.”

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ip Staff Report

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