By Alice Roberts
My son turns 12 on Sunday. All he asked for on his birthday was a COVID-19 vaccine. You see, her father passed away from COVID-19 on May 11, 2020, and the pandemic has reigned over all of our lives since March 2020, as have many of yours. My husband Rob was a well respected community police officer and caught COVID-19 on the job. He collapsed in our house when his heart stopped. The kids and I heard the thud.
This school year, I returned to my teaching job in the public school, where I am surrounded by masked children under the age of 12 and too young to be vaccinated. After just four days of school, we had several positive cases of COVID-19 and the resulting quarantines. So, now I teach the children in front of me, as well as those who are “live” from the house.
I got a text from my manager on Saturday night (I really appreciated the warning and the quick action taken to determine which children should be quarantined) and my Sunday was spent responding to parents who were understandably upset and baffled by their children. be quarantined and have been exposed to the virus. People in my district seem to be okay with wearing masks, especially for their children, and I feel more than grateful for that.
The main argument I’ve heard from anti-vaccine / people against ‘warrants’ is ‘mind your own business’. But it becomes our business when our lives are disrupted and dictated by those who choose not to vaccinate. In fact, my family and I have been going through hell since March 2020, like so many others who have been vaccinated, wear masks in public spaces, and make wise but not always easy decisions about what their families should do.
My son was supposed to be in a hockey tournament on Labor Day weekend but I pulled him out at the last minute and had to pay the hotel in full but figured my $ 300 $ and more were worth losing. In his wise way beyond the age of 11, my son agreed that the potential risks did not outweigh the benefits. As his teammates celebrated their victories, he watched the Instagram feed from afar.. It turned out that two players from his team and his coach all tested positive after the tournament. So many people worry about the learning gaps and academic holes created by virtual learning, but we should all consider how this generation of children is maturing and learning life lessons.
In October, however, my family will be taking a trip. We will be traveling to Washington, DC to see my husband’s name on the National Law Enforcement Wall, and attend the ceremony and candlelight vigil at the National Mall. I think participating is important in helping to end my children and myself, and I know my husband would be so proud to have his name on the wall. This will join 393 other names of officers, names of officers who were killed in 2020 or before and who had not been added to the wall before. That number includes 182 deaths linked to COVID-19. Living in a “safe” city with no real gun violence, I never thought his name would appear on this wall.
While COVID-19 has killed more police officers than any other cause in the past two years, many first responders are not vaccinated and are against warrants.
You see, all a lot of us do is balance and carefully calculate the risks and benefits. So many people, such as first responders, healthcare workers, and teachers, work two or three times, often without additional monetary compensation, just to try to keep up with this horrible virus. And others find that these safety instructions “violate their rights” and continue to live their lives with reckless abandonment.
I saw a post on social media that said the purpose of life is to be happy. I have always been taught that the purpose of life is to help others. And my husband and I chose professions where helping others was the main attraction of the job. After a tragedy like the one we experienced, I reflected on what life is. Is it being happy and forgetting the impact you have on everyone or is it being a good citizen and caring about your neighbors, your acquaintances and people we may not meet? – never even be?
As I share my family’s experience, I hope my husband’s death and our story can help persuade others to do the most patriotic and selfless thing I can think of – get a COVID-19 vaccine! That’s what my son is going to do this Sunday to celebrate his 12th birthday. It will be the one he will not forget.
Alice Roberts is the widow of Charles “Rob” Roberts, who died of COVID-19 at the age of 45. Mr. Roberts’ death was the first in-service fatality in the history of the Glen Ridge Police Department.
Our journalism needs your support. Please register today at NJ.com.
here is how to submit an editorial or letter to the editor. Bookmark NJ.com/Opinion. Follow us on twitter @NJ_Opinion and on Facebook at Opinion NJ.com. Get the latest news straight to your inbox. Subscribe to NJ.com newsletters.