In June. after the mandated quarantine in our state lightened, we started to introduce a little social interaction back into our life. We brought my in-laws into the mix, and we even did a road trip to porch visit with my parents who live five hours away. We also continued to wear masks everywhere and rarely took our kids to public places.
By the time July rolled around, we started occasionally taking the kids with masks and buckets of hand sanitizer to places like the ice cream shop and we even went to an appointment-only museum tour. Life felt like it was becoming a little more free, but we also knew it wasn’t over, so our guards were all still very much up.
When the 4th of July rolled around, my brother and his family decided to drive across the state to visit. We had not seen each other since Christmas, so our kids were itching to see their cousins again. Of course, there was some apprehension, but we knew we had all followed the same quarantine plan, and so we felt safe in our collective dedication.
My dad opted to stay home, but my mom happily tagged along with my brother. We all talked continuously the week before, taking temperatures and consulting guidelines whenever going out.
The weekend came and went without much of a hitch. We just stuck home and didn’t go anywhere that involved the public. Overall everything seemed clear, and on Sunday we said our goodbyes and felt accomplished in conducting a safe but incredibly enjoyable 4th as a family again.
Then on Monday my husband mentioned he wasn’t feeling well. I didn’t think much of it because we were all exhausted from the weekend. Yet as the days in the week ticked by, his cough kept getting worse and he actually started to physically look bad. Then finally on Thursday, we decided it was time to call his PCP and they ordered him a COVID test.
At first I was fine with him taking the test — I mean, we were so good. There was no way he had COVID, right? We had done all the right things, followed the rules, wore the masks and veered clear of anyone who wasn’t doing the same.
Yet it only takes one person right? One slip, on one day, that could last one second. You could spend months in isolation and you just end up at the wrong place next to the wrong person and all that quarantining is for nothing.
As the days of waiting ticked by, my worries began to swirl. I thought about my husband and what it meant if he was sick. I thought about my kids and what we would do if they got sick too. I thought about my nieces and nephews and all the overdue hugs we exchanged. And then I thought about my incredible Mom and Dad, and my heart shattered into a million pieces.
These were two people who had spent months with their doors tightly closed to the public, not even entering grocery stores. They were two people who had 12 grandchildren they normally never went a week without seeing, but somehow had managed the past three months with only FaceTime.
If he was positive, who do I call first? My sister? My brother? Or do I go straight to my parents so we can start to monitor them right away for early symptoms?
And when I call, what do I say? Do I cry and apologize? Or just tell them straight out like I would if it was a cold?
There was no way for me to know my husband was getting sick. He had zero symptoms before they came and while they were here. He didn’t even start to feel bad until 24 hours after they left. I know deep down it wasn’t my fault, but the guilt and fear overwhelmed me.
You see, we now live in a world where everyone has a new level of responsibility. We no longer should be thinking of only ourselves when we make choices in our daily interactions. There is a new accountability we have to each other, both for family and even complete strangers. One sick person can easily infect an entire party of people. My small holiday BBQ was literally no match for the coronavirus.
There is so much unknown, and so much we can’t control. If I had known my husband was in any way sick, I would have canceled all our plans and told them not to come. However, that didn’t happen, and I didn’t know he was sick. Once the weekend came and went, all our actions were done. There was no changing whatever happened next.
I am happy to report that his test did come back negative. Yet the process has left me broken and even more confused than I was before. The fear that we potentially infected others has me rattled to my core.
What if you were the one who brought this horrible virus into your social mix? Would you want to make that call?
I know I didn’t, and I am so thankful I didn’t have to.
So I beg that you wear the mask, wash your hands, avoid large parties and crowds, and be socially responsible for us all. It only takes one person to change everything. It only takes one person to spread the virus.
I now know I don’t want to ever be that ONE — do you?
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