It's been a year since the lockdown of Wuhan was lifted. From an elderly patient who recovered from COVID-19, and a medical worker couple who made their car a temporary home, to a courier who managed to mobilize an incredible scale of resources to support the fight against the virus, ordinary people have shown the way forward after the pandemic.
"I want to live to 100 to see what our society will be like then."
The melodious sound of a violin echoed in a residential community in Dongxihu district in Wuhan as winter turned to spring in March. Wang Xin, 89, enjoyed the moment after recovering from COVID-19.
On Feb 11, 2020, Wang was diagnosed with COVID-19 and admitted to Renmin Hospital of Wuhan University for treatment.
Wang, an elderly man with underlying medical conditions including diabetes, hypertension and coronary artery disease, which caused decreased oxygen saturation, was in critical condition. Medical workers saved him from the verge of death with utmost care and attention.
During his hospital stay, a photo of him appreciating the sunset on a sickbed in the company of a doctor went viral and has become one of the iconic heartwarming moments during the pandemic.
Wang was discharged from the hospital on April 9, 2020, and his health steadily improved after months of recuperation.
Wang and Liu Kai, the doctor in the photo, met again in Wuhan on Sept 4. Leaning on a stick, Wang gave Liu an affectionate hug and thanked all the medical staff for their life-saving efforts.
"I will turn 90 in a couple months and have lived through both the old society and the new one. The people used to be starving in the old days. Now China is capable of quickly bringing the pandemic under control and life back to normal, I truly feel the strength and progress of our country," Wang said.
"I want to live to 100 to see what our society will be like then," he added.
"I'm glad that I walked out of my home and did my bit, or I will regret for it for the rest of my life."
Wang Yong never thought he, an ordinary courier, could make headlines before the pandemic.
On Jan 25, 2020, Wang, who was on Spring Festival holiday, decided to drive his car to Jinyintan Hospital to ferry medical workers who were stranded at the hospital as bus and subway services were suspended in Wuhan.
Starting with one car, the 35-year-old Wuhan native assembled a group of volunteers, who together solved many pressing problems the frontline medical workers encountered.
During the Wuhan lockdown period, he managed to mobilize an incredible scale of resources to support medical workers: organizing a volunteer car fleet to transport them to and from the hospital, coordinating restaurants to provide nearly 16,000 meals a day, allocating medical supplies and materials as well as meeting other demands from buying slippers to repairing glasses and phones.
Wang's parents said this is the most courageous thing their introverted son had done in his life.
Reflecting on the past year, Wang said that "I'm glad I walked out of my home and did my bit, or I would have regretted it for the rest of my life".
As COVID-19 is largely under control in China, Wang has set his eyes on charity. A charity project he participated in has offered tuition for 4,357 poor students affected by the pandemic in Hubei province.
Medical worker couple Tu Shengjin and Cao Shan
"As medical workers, we were not used to the empty wards at first. But on second thought, this is something worth celebrating as it means there are fewer patients."
After the first group of COVID-19 patients was transferred to Jinyingtan Hospital in Wuhan in early 2020, Tu Shengjing, a doctor at the intensive care unit, participated in the treatment efforts. His wife Cao Shan, a nurse at the hospital, joined the fight a few days later.
After the public transport was suspended in Wuhan, it was difficult to find an available room at the living quarters at the hospital or in the hotel. So the couple decided to sleep on their car after work to ease some accommodation pressure. Starting from Jan 25, 2020, they spent nearly 40 nights there.
After the virus was brought under control, Jinyingtan Hospital, which was a major battlefield in the race against time to save more COVID-19 patients, has also resumed normal operations.
"These months are the least busy and most regular time since I became a doctor", Tu joked.
"As medical workers, we were not used to the empty wards at first. But on second thought, this is something worth celebrating as it means there are fewer patients," he said.
And another change is worth mentioning. After a day's work, Tu and his wife walk to the parking lot hand in hand as usual. This time, their destination is their real home, instead of the car.
"My most glorious time is when my body is the weakest rather than in the spotlight."
Zhou Guohong, a nurse from Anhui province, was known by many people when she was fighting the COVID-19 pandemic in Wuhan. She asked her colleague to write a sentence on the back of her protective suit: "Chen Yanran of Hefei No 45 Middle School, study hard."
Chen Yanran is her daughter. Her dream university is Wuhan University. When Zhou packed her suitcase before heading to Wuhan, her daughter was scared to tears. She told her daughter that Wuhan is sick and they need to treat it.
On March 27, Zhou and her colleagues finished their mission and returned to Anhui. Besides flowers and applause, she also got a diagnosis of thyroid cancer.
"I have won my fight in Wuhan, now I will start my fight with cancer," Zhou wrote in her diary. On May 8, she underwent an operation, which left a 30-centimeter scar from her ear to neck. "If this is my catastrophe in life, I hope I can live life to the fullest as a survivor," she wrote. On Sept 1, she returned to her work after radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
Now she has more hope for life. She wants to see her daughter enter Wuhan University and travel with her family.
Her daughter said to her: "Madam Zhou Guohong, please fight hard against the disease and stay alive."
"Mom, I will take care of your mom and bring her home with me."
Spring Festival in 2020 was a hard time for A Nian's family. In February, A Nian, her father and maternal grandma were confirmed to have contracted the novel coronavirus while her mother was a suspected patient.
On Feb 17, A Nian, who was quarantined at a makeshift hospital, got a call from her mom, telling her that her grandma's condition worsened and she had been sent to Huoshenshan Hospital, where severe patients were treated. Her grandma was weak and refused to eat and be treated.
The 26-year-old woman asked to be transferred to Huoshenshan Hospital from the makeshift hospital to take care of her grandma. She promised her mother: "Mom, I will take care of your mom and bring her home with me."
However, her grandma passed away on March 6. She signed the donation form for her grandma's body in tears.
She went back to Beijing in August, where she worked as a scriptwriter. In October, a diary of her memories in Wuhan was published.
She still shed tears when she thought of those experiences but she learned to manage her mood. Her friends said she became stronger.
She started to learn painting, participated in public speeches and lived her life more actively.
"The bravest thing I can think of is to move forward," she said.