Liv Brannen: We're resilient

Mar. 18—Liv Brannen was looking forward to softball season, prom and graduation when the world hit pause.

Even then, the 18-year-old senior at Goffstown High expected everything would return to normal in a few weeks.

It did not.

Brannen was working as a nursing aide at Hillsborough County Nursing Home that spring, a job she had started when she was 16. As the pandemic spread nationwide, hitting the elderly hardest, the fear was palpable.

One of the toughest things, she said, was watching as family members had to stand outside to glimpse the residents within. They brought signs, mouthed "I love you" and prayed their loved ones would not succumb to the silent killer.

That June, her school held a graduation ceremony of sorts outside, at the Fisher Cats baseball stadium in Manchester. But no graduates walked across the stage. "When we got there, the diplomas were already on our seats," she recalled.

"That's one of the moments you think about growing up, and so it was weird having it like that," she said.

After graduation, Brannen moved to South Carolina, taking a year off to work before enrolling at Coastal Carolina University near Myrtle Beach. Now 21, she's majoring in interdisciplinary studies and wants to go to law school and practice human rights law.

When she looks back on three years ago, she said, "Honestly, it's a little bit of a blur."

Nothing worked out as she had planned, she said. "But that's not necessarily a bad thing, just taking it day by day, and just enjoying the things that we have while we have them."

She remembers a shared sense of community, despite the lockdowns and remote learning.

"It was kind of comforting, that everybody's going through it," she said. "As a community, we got through it. We're on the other side of it."

That's what she learned from the pandemic, she said: "That we're resilient."

"I think it helped me learn that life throws things at you and you've just kind of got to roll with the punches."

— Shawne K. Wickham