A letter of love from the beginning of a new world.

Layah Shagalow
4 min readApr 20, 2020


Because I don’t know how else to thank you.

A couple of months ago I sat cross-legged on my bed and wrote a letter to my friends called “Greetings from the end of the world”, about what it felt like to be going through the beginning of a pandemic. I talked about the beautiful way humanity was coming together by staying apart and learning how to show up for one another from a distance. At the time, that thought comforted me, but I had no idea just how much of a reality it was actually going to be for me.

When I wrote that article, my family was actually in different stages of being sick with Covid-19. Myself, my siblings and my parents all presented with symptoms. My parents had it the worst, and eventually my father ended up in the hospital on a ventilator in the ICU.

Those 18 days were the worst days of my life. Of my entire family’s life. I won’t tell you what they were like because that is not the kind of information the world needs more of right now. But I will tell you that in a crisis that acute, time stops moving, everything becomes suspended, as you wait. You become singularly focused, not even aware of the fear that has enveloped you. We were focused on surviving.

Even writing this is hard for me. It’s all still so close. But this is important. Because during a time of the most unimaginable fear and intensity, I also witnessed the most unimaginable love and support. It saved my father. It saved my family.

After a few days of my father being in the hospital, it got to be too hard to update people individually, so we took to a personal website and my social media to keep people informed on the situation. It was unnerving and difficult to share such personal and traumatic news with so many people, I almost didn’t. But then, as soon as the first post went up, a tidal wave of love gathered momentum and washed over us, cleansing the fear and doubt, replacing it with warmth, support and unity.

There are no words to describe the depth of the gratitude and emotion I feel when I think about the hundreds of responses that came to me and my family during those weeks. It’s hard to describe the sense of humility and awe that comes from a feeling of being surrounded by kindness and selfless compassion. It was a true…