Growing up behind her slightly older brother, Merrie Maldonado’s five-year-old daughter knew that the end of her preschool days were to be marked with fun celebrations: a junior graduation ceremony with a party that involved watermelons.
So when her school shut down, as they did for many young people in March and April of this year, she struggled with the disappointment. Her responses have ranged from tears of sadness at missing out, to making up songs about her absent friends, to waking in the middle of the night fearful that her mother, a mental health first responder who still reports to work, would herself fall victim to the novel human coronavirus that scuttled much of her immediate future.
“She had all these expectations,” Maldonado says. “And these kinds of losses, of not being able to finish school, are not a huge deal in the scheme of things. But to her, it’s everything.”