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For the past year, the news has been especially depressing with the increasing rates of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. The statistics continue to flip this emotional switch in my head that has me feeling too invested in the drastically large numbers or feeling drained and numb. On a more positive note, I saw people who were once distrustful of journalism rely on the news to serve as their eyes of the outside world during quarantine. 

The whole world was living through uncertainty, loss, and change. As with other Penn students, I adjusted to the virtual environment and was ready to start my last semester remotely. However, in the first week of spring semester, I learned that my halmoni — Korean for grandmother — passed away from COVID-19. All the emotions of sadness, anger, and nervousness that I had bottled up inside me poured out the first week of classes, and they continue to leak as I now approach graduation thinking about my family. 



The author (left) and her grandmother (right) at the author's high school graduation. Photo provided by Jamie Chung. 

These past months, I have learned that grief comes and goes, and it hits you in waves. One second you’re okay; the next you’re not. While I know my family is one of many affected by the pandemic, it still hurts knowing that the person I have loved and grew up with is no longer a phone call away. 



There are only a few weeks until graduation. I never envisioned that my year would also have virtual graduations and that our nursing class would enter the medical workforce during a pandemic. These days, I am actively reflecting on my past undergraduate years as well as my decision to pursue nursing in the first place, and I realize I owe it to my halmoni, who has instilled in me a multicultural worldview through the Korean language and has shown me unconditional love that can easily be translated into care for others. 

Grandmother (left), author (middle), and younger sister (right) celebrating the author’s 18th birthday. Photo provided by Jamie Chung. 



I am still processing the situation that I am in — physically and temporally. The days feel long, but the weeks are short. The pandemic feels like a lifetime, but here we are in April 2021, already more than a year into it. The people around me are so resilient, but at the same time life seems fragile. Thinking about the future makes me feel uneasy, so I’m taking it day by day as the rest of the world is too.

JAMIE CHUNG is a Nursing senior from Los Angeles, Calif. Her email is jamiejc@nursing.upenn.edu.

The Remembrance Project allows members of the Penn community to pay tribute to loved ones lost due to COVID-19. To submit your own tribute, please go to bit.ly/DPremembrance.

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