This morning, I walked 25 blocks to get my favorite chai latte at Starbucks because it’s my birthday and I wanted to treat myself after remaining very close to home for the past month.

A woman thought I was too close to her despite us both wearing masks, being outside and being 6 feet apart.

She started yelling at me and told me I was going to give her Covid-19 and then ended with “I hope you die.” Wow.

I was shocked at the harshness of those words and started to cry on the street, but it was hidden by my mask. It’s a hard day for me as it is being alone and having a birthday during a pandemic.

She doesn’t know what I’ve been through this year. How there were times I didn’t know how to get out of the dark abyss in which I was in. I don’t know her struggles either, but this is not how we treat others, especially those in our community and strangers. We are all in this together.

I forgive her because I know how scary the world is right now and this is bringing up so many anxieties and triggers for us. We haven’t even scratched the surface on the mental health issues related to the pandemic. We need to be kind and empathetic to each other more than ever right now.

I fear that we will be suspicious of and mean to each other. Especially in densely populated areas like NYC where I live. We came together during 9/11 and hope we come together now. Do your part, and I’ll do mine.