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Heard on CultureShift

COVID Diaries: We Need Each Other Now More Than Ever

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Image credit: Taken by Amy Sacka for WDET

In the second installment of “COVID Diaries: Stories of Resilience,” five documentary photographers created art that illustrates this week’s assignment: “We All Have Someone.”

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101.9 WDET presents COVID Diaries: Stories of Resilience.”

Through WDET’s StoryMakers and in partnership with Documenting Detroit, we’ve commissioned five documentary photographers to create a multimedia introspective that taps into our shared experience of the novel coronavirus. Over six weeks, the artists will create work under a given assignment.

Experience the first chapter.

This week’s assignment: “We All Have Someone.”



We All Have Someone”

Introduction by Courtney Wise Randolph

Click play to listen to Courtney narrate the introduction to Chapter 2 of “COVID Diaries.”

A statue of Jesus sits inside a tree overlooking several graves at Woodmere Cemetery in Southwest Detroit.Taken by Erik Paul Howard for WDET
Taken by Erik Paul Howard for WDET

A statue of Jesus sits inside a tree overlooking several graves at Woodmere Cemetery in Southwest Detroit.

How are you?

I dare you, just, to tell the truth.

The grief alone right now is overwhelming.

Well, that’s my truth.

Johnny Baby is dead, my cousins lost their daddy, and reading about survivors right now in the midst of my pain feels unfair.

In Detroit today, we all have someone — dead, dying, or fighting to recover from COVID-19.

Or our favorite person is essential to ensuring the well-being of the rest of us. They’re the mailman or custodian; they work overtime prepping our groceries for pickup. They run a daycare.

Here’s what else is hard: Grieving while knowing that I’m still a lucky one.

The main costars in my quarantine are my husband and child, both of whom remain healthy. My husband is kind, and he cleans. And he makes me laugh even though he admits every day feels like he’s starring in Groundhog Day.

Every other day, this virus gives us something else to fret about — if not our physical health, then our financial and mental health.

We are burying people we never imagined we’d live without. There are no funerals; when we venture out to look upon our beloved one final time, we risk our own lives just wiping our tears.

I’m sad. I’m mad that this is happening. I’m tired of being in the house.

I’m glad I know enough to appreciate that it’s okay for me to not be okay today.

I don’t need permission to respect my mood.

I’ve lived enough days to know I can get through it.

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Chapter Two

And the sun high up there.Taken by Darryl DeAngelo Terrell for WDET
Taken by Darryl DeAngelo Terrell for WDET

And the sun high up there.

Darryl DeAngelo Terrell

My uncle has been fighting coronavirus for the past month, and has been taken off his respirator. I will be happy when he’s home.”


We still have space.Taken by Darryl DeAngelo Terrell for WDET
Taken by Darryl DeAngelo Terrell for WDET

We still have space.

Week number… whatever week this is.

I got word that my uncle who has been fighting coronavirus for the past month has awoken from his induced coma and has been taken off his respirator.

So, that makes me feel good.

It’s a nice light at the end of this coronavirus tunnel. I will be happy when he’s home.

Hopefully, this will scare him to be more conscious about his health.

He is not conscious about his health at all. Like, at all.  

I’ve been talking on the phone with my mom. A little bit more than normal, which is already a lot, because she calls me 30 times a day.

One of her jobs won’t let her come back to work until she gets tested. And she’s honestly a bit scared of getting tested. But I understand her fear.

I understand her fear completely.

— Darryl

My dad, Tim Sacka, walks along Jefferson Ave. on the shores of Lake St. Clair. Normally, I would meet my parents at their home, but I have not entered their space since the quarantine began.Taken by Amy Sacka for WDET
Taken by Amy Sacka for WDET

My dad, Tim Sacka, walks along Jefferson Ave. on the shores of Lake St. Clair. Normally, I would meet my parents at their home, but I have not entered their space since the quarantine began.

Amy Sacka

There’s a desire to come closer to people. But in this world, we’re forced to take a step away.”


I’m pulling out of my driveway in Detroit, about to go up Jefferson to my parents’ place in Grosse Pointe. We’re going to go for a little walk.

I think this time during the virus has been really difficult for them. They’re in their mid-70’s. Their favorite thing to do is be around the family. And they can’t be around my brother’s kids. Can’t celebrate Easter the way my mom likes to.

So yeah, I worry about them.

My mother, Dianne Sacka, stand inside her home as I photograph her through the glass of her front door. The physical distance between us has been challenging, especially during holidays that we celebrate, such as Easter, where we have to amend our traditions to keep my parents, my brother’s family and myself safe.Taken by Amy Sacka for WDET
Taken by Amy Sacka for WDET

My mother, Dianne Sacka, stand inside her home as I photograph her through the glass of her front door. The physical distance between us has been challenging, especially during holidays that we celebrate, such as Easter, where we have to amend our traditions to keep my parents, my brother’s family and myself safe.

One of the things I’ve thought about is closeness, and how the mask creates a barrier between me and you.

I was at the grocery store the other day, and apparently I got too close to the woman in front of me. I was wearing a mask and I was protected, but the cashier said, “Hey! Back away!” 

And it really caught me off-guard. And I realized, this is the world that we’re living in. I think about the future, and how it’s going to change how we interact with each other.  

— Amy

My mother, Michelle Nunn-Thomas, cooks brunch for our family at our home in Southfield, Mich.Taken by Rachel Elise Thomas for WDET
Taken by Rachel Elise Thomas for WDET

My mother, Michelle Nunn-Thomas, cooks brunch for our family at our home in Southfield, Mich.

Rachel Elise Thomas

My dad is reciting a story that I’ve heard before. But it’s still fun to hear it.”


I currently live at home with my parents.

We all have our own places in the house. My designated area is my bedroom, where I work on things. My mother’s place is their bedroom. And my dad’s area is the family room.

He likes to bring his bicycles in there while he’s watching something, and make alternations to his bikes. He has about, I think, 25 bikes. He likes to find them and make them new again.

We’re congregated in the kitchen as my mother prepares brunch for us.

Taken by Rachel Elise Thomas for WDET
Taken by Rachel Elise Thomas for WDET

As she’s cooking, my dad is reciting a story that I’ve heard before, multiple times. But it’s still fun to hear it.

And I’m just taking it all in. We get sick of watching something to distract us, so it is good to have the time to come together and talk. Even if it’s not for really long periods of time. We do come together at times, and we have our moments. 

— Rachel 

While my dad and I wait for the brunch that my mom is cooking, my dad, Stanley Thomas, recites a familiar story.Taken by Rachel Elise Thomas for WDET
Taken by Rachel Elise Thomas for WDET

While my dad and I wait for the brunch that my mom is cooking, my dad, Stanley Thomas, recites a familiar story.

Esmeralda, Mikaela and I share the ottoman as we watch a movie my niece picked. Every night one of us picks a movie and we watch it. We have an older brother who lives in Texas. I often wish he could join us like this more often.Taken by Rosa María Zamarrón for WDET
Taken by Rosa María Zamarrón for WDET

Esmeralda, Mikaela and I share the ottoman as we watch a movie my niece picked. Every night one of us picks a movie and we watch it. We have an older brother who lives in Texas. I often wish he could join us like this more often.

Rosa María Zamarrón

After the funeral, you push yourself to keep working, to keep moving, because then you don’t face those feelings. This week, I’m kind of stuck here in the house thinking of it. It’s good practice. Because running away is not good.


The people I’m closest to is definitely my family. 

These past few months before the pandemic, really the past year, I was always gone and I didn’t really see them that often.

Being here, during the lockdown and being in quarantine, we’ve had to spend so much time together that it’s definitely brought us a lot closer. 

My mom raised us to try to always get along regardless of the arguments or disagreements. We are all we have at the end of the day. 

My niece, Margarita, 15, is my older sister's daughter. We've all been spending so much time together and getting to know each other more. Taken by Rosa María Zamarrón for WDET
Taken by Rosa María Zamarrón for WDET

My niece, Margarita, 15, is my older sister’s daughter. We’ve all been spending so much time together and getting to know each other more.

A photograph of my brother, Oscar, when he was young. It's my favorite photograph of my only brother and I placed it above my grandfather's sombrero.Taken by Rosa María Zamarrón for WDET
Taken by Rosa María Zamarrón for WDET

A photograph of my brother, Oscar, when he was young. It’s my favorite photograph of my only brother and I placed it above my grandfather’s sombrero.

My father passed away this past summer, 2019. After the funeral, a few months later, you kind of get back into the swing of trying to push yourself to keep working, to keep moving, because then you just don’t face a lot of those feelings that you have.

This week, that’s one of the objectives. You can’t run away from it. I can’t go anywhere. I’m kind of stuck here in the house thinking of it. It’s just very strange to me, to kind of wrestle those feelings. But it’s a good practice. Because running away is not good.  

When my father passed, my brother and I went to Mexico for a week to take care of some things with my father’s estate. When we went to my father’s ranch, I saw this sombrero and instantly remembered my grandfather. It’s funny how things become ingrained in our brain and when confronted with an object that holds special meaning, memories come flooding in.

While having to stay in the house unable to go anywhere, I live off of remembering the trip with my brother in San Luis Potosí, Mexico. A few weeks ago, he had a health scare not related to COVID-19 (or so we are told) and thankfully is on the mend. It’s tough to feel so powerless to help, especially since he lives in Texas.

My friend Zoe recently lost her father this past week due to COVID-19, and my heart goes out to her and all the families who have lost someone. It’s a pain that is unbearable, and thinking of all the loss only intensifies the memories of those who have left me.

When someone leaves us too soon it leaves a hole that’s difficult to mend.

— Rosa María

My little sister, Mikaela, holding an album with images of my father, Francisco Javier Zamarrón.Taken by Rosa María Zamarrón for WDET
Taken by Rosa María Zamarrón for WDET

My little sister, Mikaela, holding an album with images of my father, Francisco Javier Zamarrón.

Aniela lends a hand to Emanuel as he climbs up on a log to walk across it together with his sister.Taken by Erik Paul Howard for WDET
Taken by Erik Paul Howard for WDET

Aniela lends a hand to Emanuel as he climbs up on a log to walk across it together with his sister.

Erik Paul Howard

I think this is changing us. Or, I hope that this is changing us. 


I’ve been thinking quite a bit about how a lot of people’s ‘someone’s are separated from them right now, either through distance or illness… or even through an absence of routine.

What other people have is not accessible in a lot of ways right now, and if it is accessed, it’s at the risk of everyone’s health. And what a choice that is. 

The family dips our feet together in a creek at the back of a friend's property in Northville.Taken by Erik Paul Howard for WDET
Taken by Erik Paul Howard for WDET

The family dips our feet together in a creek at the back of a friend’s property in Northville.

Our routines, physical and otherwise, cost us in ways that strike a different balance than what is called for right now. How good were we, or was I, at that balance before? And then how good am I at that balance right now? And really, how about after this?

I think this is changing us. Or, I hope that this is changing us. 

— Erik

Neighbors in Southwest Detroit honor healthcare workers with a rainbow of hearts in their front door during the COVID-19 pandemic.Taken by Erik Paul Howard for WDET
Taken by Erik Paul Howard for WDET

Neighbors in Southwest Detroit honor healthcare workers with a rainbow of hearts in their front door during the COVID-19 pandemic.

An unseasonably cold day brings some snow outside a closed gas station in front of disappearing stars and stripes on Livernois Ave. in Southwest Detroit.Taken by Erik Paul Howard for WDET
Taken by Erik Paul Howard for WDET

An unseasonably cold day brings some snow outside a closed gas station in front of disappearing stars and stripes on Livernois Ave. in Southwest Detroit.


COVID Diaries, Exhibition

COVID Diaries is a ten-week multimedia introspective that taps into our shared experience of the novel coronavirus.


Detroit StoryMakers

This post is a part of Detroit StoryMakers.

StoryMakers is a new approach to telling the stories that change how we experience metro Detroit. We train, connect, and support media makers from communities across the region and share their stories with the world. This work is made possible with support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs

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