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Backstage with Brooke: My Experience with Covid-19, Grace, and Creating this Platform

Forty-two days ago I got on a plane with my cello from Seattle to New York City, filled with anticipation for what the future would hold for me. I had just wrapped up my chapter in Dallas, having completed my second graduate degree, finished a quartet residency, spent a month in recovery from injury, and was excited for my fresh start in the city. Shadows of Covid-19 were looming but there was no talk of shutting down the country at this point. I had no idea just how bad it was going to get, and how much this virus would affect my life, career, plans, and even my physical health. Some have it worse than others and I count myself lucky in that regard, but no matter the degree of hardship we have, we are all going through something. This pandemic affects the masses, but our individual testimonies still hold value as they offer an opportunity to connect and encourage others.

This pandemic affects the masses, but our individual testimonies still hold value as they offer an opportunity to connect and encourage others

When I originally thought of starting this blog, I had trips planned to Miami, Boston, and Copenhagen to see my boyfriend, Joshua Gersen, conduct some concerts. It was going to be the perfect way to start my travel/concert/artist documentation process, but these past several weeks have turned out to be very different due to a number of heartbreaking reasons. My personal problems didn’t seem so important anymore as I watched this virus force Broadway to close their doors, major symphonies to shut down, hospitals to overload, millions of people to lose their jobs, toilet paper to fly off the shelves, and social distancing to set in. As a result of the fear and disbelief I experienced, I had lost sight of some of my long-term goals and went into “project mode” in an effort to distract myself and feel productive in quarantine as I waited for it to end.

I don’t regret the updates I was able to make to the kitchen or all the newly organized closets, but the universe decided it was time for me to hit the reset button. My immune system was no match for the most densely populated city in the country and I was sentenced to bed for a week with a diagnosis of Covid-19. I was experiencing all the classic symptoms: chills, cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, loss of taste/smell, and extreme exhaustion. It simply was not feasible to go see a doctor so I was prescribed an inhaler, large doses of Vitamin C, and rest. This seemed to work for a while. But in order to heal, the body needs the mind to cooperate. As guilt and shame started to get the best of me, I began to increase my physical activity (prolonged showers, walking to the kitchen) in hopes of accelerating my healing; I learned the hard way this virus can’t be beaten like that. One afternoon I experienced a perfect storm of symptoms that sent me past the point of being able to self-sooth and breathing had become so labored I was on the verge of unconsciousness. Luckily, my boyfriend was able to keep me awake and call for help. I’ll never forget what it felt like waiting for them to arrive and the thoughts that went through my head. Of all the things I had worried about the past month, all I could think of in that moment were my family and friends, and how lucky I was to be in the arms of someone who loves me. I remember promising myself that if I made it through this, I wouldn’t give up on the life I wanted to create for myself. I wanted to feel a cello in my hands again, make music, leave an impact, and to see more of the world. I remember being heart broken for those who die alone from this disease in over crowded emergency rooms, and being thankful for being so well cared for in the comfort of my own home. I was given a huge reality check and an opportunity to evaluate my life in a different light. I was reminded of what grace felt like. Something we need to be better about extending to ourselves during this time. I’ll probably write an entire blog post about this at some point, but be nice to yourselves! This is a difficult time. It’s important to remember that it’s ok to feel whatever you’re feeling, and that it’s ok to rest if that’s what you need. But more on that later…

I spent the following week giving myself permission to rest and I’m happy to announce I’m fully recovered and regaining my stamina. This recovery gave me time to think about how I want to approach the rest of my time in quarantine thoughtfully, as opposed to jumping back on the hamster wheel of mindless work. I’ll still want to take on some home improvement projects, but having no real obligations and nothing but time on my hands, I realize this is an opportunity for me to create the foundation for which I want my life built. I hope others are viewing this as a chance to do the same!

Recognizing the boundaries this virus has placed on just about everything in our lives, I’m not sure exactly what the future holds. All I know is that I’m thankful for the people I have in my life and that my mission will always revolve around music. I may not be able to use this blog as a way to document travel and in person concerts any time soon, but I will use it as a tool to keep people connected and informed. I’d also like to offer it up as a platform for artists and organizations who feel they need extra help during this time of crisis. Thank you for reading this “welcome letter” and look for my upcoming article, “A Conversation with the QuaranTrio: A Family Affair”!

BlogClassical MusicMusicCovid-19CelloNew York

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