Editor’s note: The Virus Diaries is a series in which Mainers talk about how they are affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

“The world we are all living in right now is one I never would have imagined.”

Isabella Castrucci, 17, of Gray, is finishing her junior year at Gray-New Gloucester High. She is in the International Baccalaureate program there, but taking classes at home without the physical presence of teachers and classmates, because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Like other high school students, Isabella Castrucci is studying remotely during the pandemic. Her situation is made more difficult because of a younger sister at the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital. Photo courtesy of Isabella Castrucci

“Looking back on that last Friday we had in school, no one really knew that was our last day. I remember sitting there, joking with my friends about the coronavirus and saying, ‘Looks like this is our last day here.’ But none of us knew how serious this was, and how soon our year would be over.

“I always find myself reminiscing on memories from school and moments with my friends that just feel like ancient history to me now. But it’s those moments that get me through times like these, knowing I have so much to look forward to when this is all over.

“My experience has been a little different because I have a (14-year-old) sister, Mikaela, who has been battling AML (acute myeloid leukemia) since September. Currently, she is in the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital doing her last round of treatment, in which she will have to be hospitalized for approximately five weeks. This adds an extra amount of paranoia on my family because we have to make sure we are being safe during this time, and taking extra precautions so we don’t put her at any risk.

“One of the downsides is, now that the hospital has more restrictions, I’m not allowed to see my sister. This is definitely a change for me because I get a little lonely sometimes, but it’s given me time to focus on myself and find new things to do … (like) drawing and painting, and also writing in my own personal journal, where I write about my days in quarantine, aside from the ones I have to do for school.

“We all get a little stressed out with all the obstacles of life so (we can) try and look at this time as a way to focus on the things you don’t normally get to do in your everyday life … I know my family and I were always on the go, but (now) we’re together, enjoying the things we are still able to do – playing lots of games, going on walks, spending time outside, binge watching ‘Survivor,’ baking, going on random car rides just to get out of the house.

“One thing I am thankful for is that I have the opportunity to still do online school and dance.

“My dance classes are taking place through Zoom, where we basically have our normal class, just virtually. It’s definitely not the same, but being able to have my normal dance classes gives me some sense of reality again. My dance studio is like my second family. I practically grew up there and it’s become such a big part of my life, so being able to still have contact with all my friends and teachers is great.

“Most of our competitions got pushed back to later dates so there is still hope we will get to perform again. I just can’t wait for the day I get to be back in the studio doing what I love with my best friends.

“I’m hoping this time will inspire me to not take anything in life for granted again, and just live my life to fullest; go on crazy adventures because, in an instant, it can just be taken away and then you realize how much you rely on those things every day.”

Do you have a story to share about how you are affected by the coronavirus outbreak? Email us at [email protected]

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