ABILENE, Texas — 2020 began as Aaliyah Gaona's year. The shy 13-year-old was breaking out of her shell at school, playing violin in an orchestra and planning a retirement ceremony for her dad, who has served in the military for 30 years. Then, in the middle of planning that celebration with her mom and sister, they realized they had to make the decision to cancel. Aaliyah was heartbroken.
That same day, she began to write out her frustrations in a poem, which turned into a song. At first, it was simply her way of processing her emotions, but as she began to think about how others were affected worse than her, she decided to write a song that inspired hope.
"I would say that we're all gonna get through this together," Aaliyah said. "And don't stress about it because we're all gonna be OK in the end."
With the extra free time that she now has, she taught herself to create the music she needed on her iPad using Garageband, then recorded her song and posted it to YouTube. She hopes that people who hear it will find hope and encouragement.
The song starts off with straightforward honesty: "Don't tell me you're fine, 'cause I know you're not."
In the chorus of her song, Aaliyah gives her message of encouragement: "Don't worry, don't stress, it will be OK. We can sort through this mess 'cause it's never too late. Look how far this world has come, and if we come together, we could have this battle won. I know this sickness has got us down. It's breaking our hearts and smiles upside down. But there's still hope in each of our souls, so let's just come together to reach our goal."
The Gaona family calls San Antonio home but has been in Abilene for the last couple years for Aaliyah's father's final assignment with the Air Force. After he retires this year, they plan to return to San Antonio.
Aaliyah is keeping up with school and martial arts through online classes. She's making the most of the extra time she gets to have with her parents and younger sister, while still doing her best to stay in touch with friends.