Let's be real for a moment, 2020 was an absolute garbage year. But one of the saddest things about it was the emergence of COVID-19. What initially was something we believed would go away after a few weeks turned into something that we wouldn't expect.

Fast forward to 2021, and things have gotten somewhat back to normal. Yet we still could find ourselves in a predicament like 2020 if we don't do.

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Thankfully a vaccine for COVID has been released. But as I look around, I see more and more people saying they won't get it. That it was rushed. That we shouldn't live in fear.

I get it. The virus has a very high survival rate. Over 98.2% of people are ok after getting the disease. But notice the number.

That means 1.8% of people who have contracted it have passed away. That's 610,370 people not getting the chance to further their lives in whatever way they choose.

That 1.8% doesn't seem so small anymore does it.

I know 2 of the 610,370 that have left us.

One is someone we all knew and loved. His name was Luke Ratliff. An Alabama fan who unabashedly loved the Tide and could trash talk like nobody's business. When he passed, I remember just staring at my phone in disbelief.

"Why him?" was the thought that rattled in my head for almost an eternity it felt like.

It'd be one thing if this was the first time I felt this way. But... I felt the same way earlier in 2020 when I lost someone dear to me.

Someone I considered a second mother. A call from a friend that I wish I never received.

When I heard the phrase "Thomas, I don't want to lose my mom."

There is nothing you can say that will make the other person on the line feel better, because what can you say?

My second mother passed away on October 15, 2020.

I had COVID. I got better, and she lost her life.

I would've traded anything for it to be the other way around. So she could see her family grow.

So I ask as a person who doesn't want to lose another person to this disease: Please, I beg you, get your COVID-19 vaccine. It's ok to be scared, I understand. I really do.

Heck, I'm scared of needles and just had to look away while the nurse administered the vaccine. But I'm fully vaccinated now.

But as the son of a nurse, she'd slap me on the back of the head if I didn't say something. The vaccines are safe, and they'll help us all get back to normal.

Please stop all the trolling of people who got or are planning to get the vaccine. They want the world to return to normal just like you do.

All of us can get through this together. I leave you with the words from Momma Ratliff:

Alabama COVID-19 Vaccine Breakdown (June 2021)

Each graphic shows how many people are vaccinated in all of Alabama's 67 counties, plus the percentage of vaccinated people versus that county's total population. This data was pulled from the Alabama Department of Public Health, county health departments and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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