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  • Writer's pictureAlicia DeMatteo

Lilja reflection on the moment COVID-19 changed everything

I recently came across the Star Tribune’s call for readers’ last pre-pandemic photos, and for three of us, the memory is deeply etched in our minds.

Alicia, Kate and Erica are all smiles at DFW minutes before our new reality set in.

We were on our way back to Minneapolis after a fun and productive planning meeting with one of our longtime clients in Dallas. We had been tracking the news about COVID-19 ahead of our trip, but because there was just a handful of confirmed cases at the time, we felt comfortable traveling with some basic precautions.

As we waited at the gate, we watched the former president give his first prime-time address on COVID-19, acknowledging how this would begin to affect our daily lives. It wasn’t until we actually boarded the plane that we realized the extent to which our world had dramatically transformed.

The plane was eerily empty — there were so few passengers on board that it felt like we were part of a ghost flight or as if we were written into a doomsday movie plot. It was a stark contrast to the full flight we were on 24 hours prior.

The solemnity of our flight made it clear that this was the beginning of our COVID-19 narrative.

For Erica, her mind went to her two sons and how she and her husband would keep them healthy and safe. She started making mental notes about the different topics they’d have to address as parents, like explaining what’s happening in a way that makes sense to one- and three-year-old kids.

For Kate, she thought about her husband's upcoming trip — he was scheduled to fly to California at 6 a.m. the following day. Moments after her flight touched down in Minneapolis, he called to say he didn't think he should go. She readily agreed, citing the deserted plane and concerns about possible lockdowns and their family being separated during this uncertain time.

Little did we know how drastic the impact would be on our lives for the next year.

When was your moment? Follow #TheMoment on Twitter to read other reflections from people across the nation!

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