EXO — Just As Usual
I’ll just protect you next to me. I’ll watch over you wherever you go whether it’s day or night so that you don’t wander alone anymore.
I remember the time I was listening to this song. I was sunbathing at 9 am to get my vitamin D and I put this song on repeat while watching the bright blue sky. The sky was so bright that it did not match my sad emotions that day.
My memory of those dark months still feels real. The COVID-19 pandemic situation in 2022 is indeed not as sad and cruel as it was then, June, July, and August 2021. Those three months were painful and sad, not because I lost someone close to me or because I felt excruciating pain. I am eternally grateful that I did not feel excruciating pain and I empathize with those who have lost and feel the pain both physical and mental because of the abusive situation at that time.
If I remember correctly, in May 2021, the Ministry of Health and WHO announced the proliferation of new variants of the COVID-19 virus both in Indonesia and in the world, namely the virulent and deadly delta variant. At that time, my job as a sports nutritionist in the province of East Java required me and the team to travel around the cities of East Java to ensure our athletes received good service, care, and attention before they had to compete at the National Sports Week in Papua from September to October 2021. With our increased mobilization, our probability of getting the virus and spreading the virus also increased. As much as possible we take care of ourselves and take care of others by complying with health protocol rules and vaccinating 2 times.
Who would have thought that May 2021 would be the last month we could meet athletes outside Surabaya before the months of competition. Because in June 2021, we had to face the fact that many of our teams, both the nutrition team and other sports science teams, had been tested positive for COVID-19. Of the 15 people on our team, only 4 were healthy and tested negative, the rest had to be isolated, had to stay inside, and had to fight their best to be healthy again. As a team that serves athletes, we know we can’t leave our athletes alone without service and care, especially in these vulnerable times. Therefore, the 4 of us who were healthy and fit would continue to do our job as best we can, which was to distribute vitamins to athletes in Surabaya and conduct consultations if it was really needed, not even a few of the team were sick and must continue to do online consultations with athletes and coaches.
I remember perfectly how I felt the loneliness and emptiness that was so strong when I was in a large and vast office, which was usually occupied by 15 people at once, and how I felt that there was a joy missing at that time. The joy, laughter, and smiles were replaced by the presence of a sense of loneliness, emptiness, fear, and crying where every second we hoped there would be no more news about new people who had been tested positive for COVID-19, we really hoped no more people would leave forever.
I remember perfectly those times, when we were far apart, we couldn’t see each other but the affirmative, positive, and encouraging words were always there on our cellphone screens. Words as simple as: “How are you today?”, “What did you do today?” “Have you sunbathed yet?” “Don’t forget to wear a double mask, okay?” “Have you taken your vitamins today?” or simply “What did you eat this afternoon?” or “Don’t forget to laugh” are simple words that become very natural for one another to say. Because at that time, a person’s condition could change very quickly, worsen, or be better very quickly. I remember perfectly every morning, afternoon, evening, and night, we always asked about each other’s conditions, buy and give everything they need.
Those are the times when wasted time and money were no longer important because the wasted time and money were intended for people, beloved friends, and the team that had been fighting with us together for more than 1 year. Those times were the time when I wanted to protect all of them, heal all of them, lift all their difficulties, their pains so that we could gather together again, 15 people in that large room.
I wanted to share such a large room with them, not alone. I want to share the happiness, joy, laughter, happiest moments, and worst challenges that we always handled so well.
Those times were hard, dark, painful, and sad, but we have recovered from them. All mistakes have been forgiven. All the good things will always be remembered.
Our many problems won’t go away easily. But I saw the smiles in the picture where we had no worries. It’s actually a little awkward but it’s so pretty.
This story was written in memory of dr. Wardy Azhari Siagian; the only one we always looked up to. A humble doctor, a good leader, is selfless, nurturing, and always putting our interests before his own. We miss you, Dokter Wardy. Look what you have made us.