As graduation comes closer for seniors, I can’t help but think about the 2020 spring semester. You’d be lying if you said you didn’t struggle last year. 

COVID-19 has affected millions of people all over the world. In the United States alone, over half a million people have died from COVID-19. 

Heat map showing total number of COVID-19 cases by countries. By: Jeremy Munoz

But not my dad, he survived. In February of 2020 my dad, Kevin McNamara, was running 4 miles every single day. In March, he was put on a ventilator, and remained that way for 4 months. He finally left the hospital in August and was sent to Kessler Rehabilitation Center, where he learned how to eat, walk, and talk again. 

If you looked at my transcript from the Spring semester, you would not see a dean’s list student. But why? Why did someone with a 3.6 GPA suddenly fail more than half of her semester classes? The answer is simple: not only did I struggle with what every student was struggling with at this time, but I faced the challenge of having a loved one in the hospital. 

Bridget and her dad, Kevin, at an Eagle’s game in 2017. By: Bridget McNamara

If you’ve ever had a loved one in the hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic, you would know how tremendously hard it is. Not only could I not visit my father, but I couldn’t even speak to him. Months of not knowing whether he was going to see another day or not absolutely killed me. Sometimes I thought the people who’s loved ones passed on had it easier, because at least they knew. I felt guilty for thinking like this, but I couldn’t help myself: was my father ever going to live? I thought that the world was out to get me, and I thought my professors had some audacity to expect me to complete homework assignments and attend classes! I couldn’t even get out of bed without crying my eyes out. Months and months passed and the work kept piling up. I finally just gave up, accepted my failures, because I couldn’t see a life without my dad. He missed so many important days such as Easter, his birthday, my birthday, and father’s day. Life was hard. 

But he got better. Slowly but surely, he got better. In September, we finally brought him home. I felt like I was drowning, and I had finally come up for fresh air. I retook some classes, took a winter class, and I am currently enrolled in six classes this semester. Although we went through something tragic, we persevered. 

Bridget and her dad, Kevin, celebrating their birthdays in April of 2021. By: Bridget McNamara

I am so proud to say that I will be walking with my class in May’s 2021 graduation. This was not foreseeable for me when my father was sick because I had lost all hope. The lesson to be learned is that it is always okay not to be okay. It is okay to be depressed, and it is okay to mess up sometimes. Although I kicked myself many times this last year for giving up so easily on myself, I also reward myself for how hard I’ve worked to make this comeback. Life is not about the mistakes you’ve made; it’s what you do AFTER those mistakes that count.