The COVID-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives. It has changed the way we work, the way we spend our leisure time, the way we go about day-to-day tasks like grocery shopping, and the way we communicate with our friends and families.
For many of us, these last couple of months have been stressful, scary, and lonely. Millions of Americans are now unemployed and are worried about paying bills and feeding their families. They’re concerned about their loved ones who are vulnerable to the virus, and more than ever before they’re feeling disconnected from their families and their communities.
This pandemic has changed the way we offer support to our loved ones. In most cases we can no longer be physically present for friends and family who are struggling, leaving us feeling even more lost and helpless. One man, however, got a little creative and figured out a way to support his wife as she underwent chemotherapy.
Dennis Cockrell decided that he wasn’t going to allow the hospital’s zero-visitor policy to stop him from supporting his wife as she underwent her third round of chemotherapy treatment.
Diana Cockrell is being treated for breast cancer at Bon Secours St. Francis Cancer Treatment Center in Greenville, South Carolina. Her husband, Dennis, wanted to be there with her but was prohibited from entering the hospital under the COVID-19 restrictions.
Diana was in a room with a window that looked out onto grassy clearing, so Dennis figured he could sit in a lawn chair outside her room so she could still see that he was there.
“Only patients were allowed in which was tough because I didn’t want her to feel alone,” Cockrell said. “But it’s the day we live in and I just tried to make the best of it.” 
The couple’s three kids helped their father make signs that read “IM HERE & I [HEART] U”, and Dennis set up camp outside her window. Diana was overwhelmed by his support.
“All the sudden I didn’t feel so alone in the hospital room by myself,” she said. “It was such a pleasant surprise; he’s been the most wonderful supporter and he’s made it all very bearable.” 
A few of Diana’s nurses saw Dennis’s display and helped Diana create signs that read “I [HEART] U”, which they taped to her window.
Dennis said that the feeling of having someone there with you during a difficult time is irreplaceable, and he felt that simply face-timing with her during her treatment was simply not enough.
“This felt more like being in the room with her than a FaceTime somehow so it was something I had to do.” 
Finding Creative Ways to Connect
As we reach nearly two months of social distancing rules and lockdowns, many of us are missing our friends and families. As we have gradually adapted to our “new normal”, people across the country have been coming up with creative ways to stay connected with their loved ones.
Videos of drive-by birthdays are now popping up everywhere, showing long lines of cars adorned in balloons and “happy birthday” signs, honking, cheering, and waving to the birthday boy or girl standing in their driveway .
Teachers have been using every tool at their resource to stay connected with their students and to support them while they all stay home from school, some even going door-to-door to visit each individual kid in their class .
The Power of Human Connection
This pandemic has highlighted the power of human connection and demonstrated how important community is to each and every one of us.
Now, more than ever before, we need to stand together in solidarity. We need to do whatever we can to stay connected to each other, to support each other, and to show our friends and neighbors that we are there for them.
Right now, the future is uncertain. From one day to the next, we don’t know how things will change, or when things will be able to go back to normal, but if we continue to be present for each other in whatever way we can, we will come out on the other side of this stronger than we were before.
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