top of page

Reflections on The Stand: COVID, Graduation, and Personal Growth

Before me sit two copies of The Stand, a post-apocalyptic novel of gargantuan proportions by horror-master Stephen King. Both of my copies are tattered mass market paperbacks, and both have heavily cracked spines, and pages that fall out if I am not careful about handling them.

One copy is the original from 1978, clocking in at 817 pages, and the other is the “Complete & Uncut” rerelease from 1990, finishing at 1141 pages.

For those who have read the book, you will likely know why it has been on my mind as much as it has been lately. The Stand is a story of heroes and villains who rise amid a viral pandemic created by a government experiment gone wrong; the experiment in this case being a bioweapon that manifests in people with flu-like symptoms before killing off 98% of the world’s population, which is itself explicitly due to governmental mismanagement.

Sound familiar?

Like most people, I wasn’t really sure what 2020 would bring, but I never thought what has happened would happen. Even though our pandemic hasn’t been nearly as close to King’s fictional one, I still cannot help but think of this story now, and the feelings I felt once COVID began to spread throughout the world.

Image Caption: Pages of The Stand falling out, along with its younger brother, held together by Scotch tape

The feeling I recall most was uncertainty.

There was a mix of feelings stirring in the pit of my stomach when I first heard the news we would be shutting down. There was some fear over what would happen next, some hope that the situation wouldn’t be as bad as experts were predicting, even mild happiness at the thought I might get some time to focus on writing a novel I had been planning for some time. Yet it was mostly uncertainty.

I lost my job twice in 2020, once in mid-March when the pandemic truly began to ramp up, and once again last week as COVID-positive cases began to skyrocket in Nevada once more, mere weeks from graduation.

Class continued, entirely online, and I never got to say goodbye to some people who had come to mean the world to me. I wouldn’t be graduating until the Fall 2020 semester, and many of my friends were graduating in the spring of that year.

The end of classes came, COVID got worse, and my favorite professor, whom I had grown extremely close with over my years as an undergrad, passed away in the summer from COVID-19.

The mix of feelings grew darker, and heavier as seasons changed, a birthday came and went, spent alone, and summer turned toward fall.

Depression began to roll over me in unending waves, and I was scrambling for air.

I was back at work by the time classes began for what would be my last semester before graduation. Even though hours were severely reduced, I felt a little better being back out in the world once more, even if it did mean routine COVID tests and social distancing.