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‘It’s the Scariest Thing in This Life’ 

Courtnesha Rogers is raising three preschoolers in the shadow of the pandemic.

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Courtnesha Rogers has her hands full with her children home during the pandemic. From left they are: Angele, Angelino (foreground) and Angelo. - WILEY PRICE/ST. LOUIS AMERICAN
  • WILEY PRICE/ST. LOUIS AMERICAN
  • Courtnesha Rogers has her hands full with her children home during the pandemic. From left they are: Angele, Angelino (foreground) and Angelo.

Rogers did not leave him then; she stayed until after the birth of their next child, a daughter. Then their life together became intolerable. She still sees his family — “his mother, his sister. They never miss a beat of the kids’ lives. He’s just not mentally prepared to be around at this point.” Sensing that was what had sent her back for her GED with the first pregnancy. School now had more obvious advantages, because it could help her earn enough money to take care of herself and her baby. So she signed up for classes at St. Louis Community College – Forest Park and kept studying. “The whole time I was in labor, I was doing practice tests,” she recalls. “I kept saying, ‘I have to pass this thing!’ When my baby was three weeks old, I was not even supposed to be out the bed, and I went and took the test.”

It would have been nice, she thinks now, to have had parents who said, “Why don’t you think about this school?” or “When you go to college …” the way she’d heard her friends’ parents say. When her dad moved the family to Hazelwood, her friends all seemed “rich, with big houses” and parents who cared about the details of their lives. “I was responsible for myself,” she says. “That’s how I just kind of branched out in the world, from myself.”

Rogers and her father get along better now that she’s older, but she never felt like a Courtnesha, so when she set out to make an album and needed a rapper name, she had fun picking one. “I always had a lot of angels around me,” she thought. She would be Angela Sky. “We’re all gonna match,” she told her babies. “We’re the Angel Gang!”

Having children, she says, is what taught her “how to share. How to sacrifice, give up things I wanted. How to cherish moments. And more importantly” — a wide, lit-up smile — “I finally felt loved.”

If Rogers does come down with COVID-19, she’s nervous about what will happen: “I think they will still send you home to fight it. I would have family for my kids to go to, but they won’t know how to be without me. My kids don’t spend the night without me; I’m never away from them for more than six or eight hours. We would have to do this thing together.”

And it would be without insurance, unless she can get her Medicaid back. She had coverage, but it was canceled, “maybe because I was earning too much? So I’ve been paying out of pocket for everything, and it’s killing me. My baby’s asthma medicine alone cost almost $300.” That’s next on her list: reapplying, hopefully online. “I qualified for food stamps, so shouldn’t I be eligible?”

What bothers her most about the pandemic isn’t even these practical, everyday fears, though. It’s that “there is no cure. It’s the scariest thing in this life. I just feel like it’s wiping the world out, like this is what’s going to kill the world, and this makes me so sad.”

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