We’re Still Here! 2020 – Third Runner-up

Angelia Armstrong, Smithfield, Virginia

In the spring of 2020 the world changed. Many memories came back when this first began, and I have been thinking a lot about how this feels somewhat like when I was growing up with polio. The isolation, fear, loneliness and shock that something like this could happen again in my lifetime.

My career/work stopped in a day. I am a clothing designer/artist and teacher. When the Covid-19 virus hit, my state shut down pretty quickly. All the shows, teaching dates, and events that were planned for my work were cancelled. For a few weeks I did nothing, just kind of wondering around My husband and sons were essential workers and did not have any changes to their work schedules. The situation became a huge stressor - trying to protect them/us from getting and spreading the virus.


But then I did what I always do - I started making plans for exercise, gardening and new creative work life. My garden was my safe place, even though recent back/leg problems have limited the amount of physical activities I can do. Friends and a garden group online have been a great resource for connecting with others. Local friends doing driveway plant swaps and chatting from the porch. Discussing weather, soil, insects, and other garden issues in the chat group. Mainly, I have reinvented my career self once again. An update to my website and new blog have given me new ways to meet and communicate with old and new friends. As well as continue to make a living into the future. I am teaching new classes with Zoom and making videos for YouTube.

Another important reason I feel the world needs to know that we are still here is the current discussions the country is having around Covid-19 and the possible effects it will have on the future health of people who overcome the initial virus. It is too soon to know what this virus will do to the body as the infected children and young people grow older.

I got over the polio virus when I was a child, but have lived my entire life with the stigma, pain, and sometimes shame of getting sick. The physical disabilities as I age are only getting worse, and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.

Happy to still be here and I am always looking forward to whatever the future holds. It seems that is our nature as polio survivors - to keep fighting and never give up.