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Toll of these times captured in a family photo

Juliana Alva and her son, Matías.Elaine DeBitetto/Elaine DeBitetto Photo

I’m a nurse at Lowell General Hospital. Work has been unreal. You will never know what it is like unless you are there. It is sad that patients can’t have their loved ones be by their side. We are struggling with stress, lack of sleep, the feeling of a knot in your stomach, as you don’t know what is really going to happen to your co-worker, your friends, your family, the world.

I decided to isolate myself from the rest of my family to be on the safe side. I stay by myself in a room with a bathroom. I hang out with our kids in the backyard, wearing a mask, but no hugs and kisses, no cuddles.


Our kids, Matías and Emília, are being very strong. We have been trying to make things as normal as we can. On Tuesday a photographer from Concord came to our house for a project called “COVID-19 Doors of Hope.” She has been taking pictures of families at their house entrance. Each family member holds a sign of what they want to say. Matías, age 5, asked me to write, “All I want is a kiss,” and Emília, 3, said, “So far no fever!” I thought it would be fun.

However, when the pictures came back, their expressions were crushing. It was heartbreaking; they both had very sad faces. Times are difficult for everyone in different ways. These pictures are so telling. Many people out there don’t see reality and are not doing their part to keep the virus from spreading. For those who can do so freely, hug and kiss your kids all the time.

Juliana Alva