The Toast of Covid

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The Toast of Covid

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The COVID-19 pandemic has been quite the sensory overload. Our sight, smell, and sense of sound were heightened as the world slowed down, paralyzed with fear. As I write this, I have just become one of the countless victims of COVID-19, revealed to me by a home test kit just this morning. My body is weak, I cough constantly, I get dizzy if I stand, and I find that my appetite has left me. When talking about the heightened senses of COVID, it would be easy to talk about the sounds of coughing, or the feel of masks pressed up against your face, but in this moment I find my most heightened sense is the smell of toast. Peculiar as it is, it seems to be the only thing I find remotely appetizing at the moment. My mother, who is a registered nurse on the front lines of the fight against COVID has loaded me down with a regimen of vitamins and assorted medicines. She is insistent that I keep something on my stomach to avoid getting more sick. But what to eat? Nothing looks, smells, or sounds satisfying except toast. The smell of heat and bread wafting from the toaster reminds me that it could be far worse. I could have lost my sense of smell completely, as so many have. It further gives me hope that I will move on from my sickness as society will move to manage COVID. What the smells of the pandemic can tell is, is that while it seems a collective struggle of society, it is an even greater individual struggle. How can we cope with sickness when our bodies are paralyzed with the inability to function as we once did? The smell of toast to me that provides hope, could be chicken noodle soup for another, or fresh air for another. These smells are enticing for a number of reasons to improve our health, whether that be toast to hold medicine down, or the smells of outside which bring about a healthy walk. In a world so panicked and overwhelmed, what I think will be ultimately remembered by the pandemic is the appreciation for simple sounds and smells, such as that of toast.

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This item was submitted on February 1, 2022 by Brett Reinert using the form “Share Your Story” on the site “A Journal of the Plague Year”:

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