By Lillian Michelle
This week we traveled to the coast to bury my husband’s grandmother. Her passing was no surprise as she was closer to one hundred years old than ninety. This filled me with anxiety for several reasons but mainly the children’s perception of the death of a loved one and the threat of our catching covid-19.
My husband had to work so we traveled by night. The air conditioner went out, so it was a long, hot ride with two very cranky children who had begun the journey after a heavy day of play. The boy child’s throat was hoarse which did not help matters.
We finally made it to our family’s home and quickly fell into the bed. The next day was busy from start to finish. The visitation was the first order of the day. I worried about this portion the most as his grandmother’s body was to be displayed for a viewing. Both children did an excellent job, taking everything in stride. I was proud of them! They were well behaved and kept their masks on.
After the graveside service, we came back to the family home then walked to the neighbor’s home. They are close friends of the family and had prepared a meal for us. Here again, I was concerned. People poured into that house like the covid is allergic to fried chicken. Nobody wore a mask. I didn’t realize that many people would be there. I thought the meal was meant just for our family and not the whole block!
We have tried to be vigilant since the pandemic made its debut. Grocery pick up, masks, take-away meals, tons of hand washing while we hum the birthday song and social distancing until we were sick of each other are all the things that we were told would keep us safe. We did the things.
Now, I sat in a room of about thirty people. I did not know most of them and they were packed in tight. We quickly ate our meal, thanked our hostess and walked back to the house to get cleaned up and ready to travel home that night. The kids played in the sandy dirt with yellow, metal Tonka construction machines while the adults divided up the abounding flowers and funeral potatoes. We said our goodbyes and hit the road.
We were all so grateful to be home!
The next morning, we packed in the car to take Quinn to the doctor because his voice was still broken. As I expected, we were the only ones at the clinic. If a global pandemic could possibly result in any perks, I think that might be it. No wait! Our temps were taken, and we checked in then we were very quickly called to the back. They called out our last name like it was a question. I thought that was strange in that we were the only people standing there. I even giggled a little. The kids bounded down the hall taking delight in the turtle stickers on the floor and we were seated in the examination room.
The doctor entered, listened to his symptoms and noted that we had just travelled then immediately excused herself. When she reappeared, she was dressed in a floor length gown with extra gloves along with a face shield and heavier mask. I tried to stay calm.
“His strep test came back negative so because we do not know why his throat is raw, I suggest you go straight away to have him tested for covid-19,” she said. My stomach caved into itself and I felt myself start to flush. The tears that filled my eyes were quickly wiped away but the lump in my throat relieved my voice of its normal pep. I tried to get it together as quickly as I could for the kids’ sake.
We drove around for two hours, in the blistering heat, looking for an open testing facility. I was not aware that covid takes holiday for the day before the Fourth of July. Finally, we found an open urgent care office that was testing.
The woman at the front desk promptly let us know that the test would be $199 per person unless we wanted to run it through our insurance. I said, “I thought testing was free?” She very coldly let me know that she could not speak for other places, but suggested Google was a good place to start. I passed his insurance card across the counter then filled out his forms.
By now, the kids were antsy and it was all I could do to keep them quiet in the waiting area. I was still on the verge of losing my lunch over the matter, so their normal antics were pushing the expectations of my limitations.
Dressed in full gear similar to the first doctor, a nurse called us to the back. This time, I did not get tickled over their calling out his last name in an empty waiting room. We answered a lot of questions and then I watched as Quinn cried crocodile tears while one nurse held him down and the other shoved a swap to the back of his nose.
Now, I am home. It is evening and I am watching my husband set off fireworks as the children happily prance around totally delighted over the sounds and sights of this Fourth of July holiday. They are unaware of the gravity of this day. They have heard of the virus but do not understand that it is the reason our day ended up like it did.
“Should we have turned around and walked away from that lunch? His throat was raw before we left… Where did we go? How did it happen? How could I let this happen? This is going to be my fault if the results are positive. Who else would be responsible? I am their mother and it is up to me to make sure they are safe. I have failed somehow and in some way.”
I ponder all these things while watching my greatest gifts enjoy the light show. My family is my everything and my mom guilt is raging.
Seven Excruciating Days Later:
The phone rang and I almost missed it! I have been waiting by the phone since we left the clinic. I ran as fast as I could almost slipping on the wet bubbles overflowing onto the bathroom floor.
The voice on the other end of the phone sweetly requested to speak with Quinn’s mother then requested I verify his date of birth. She then apologized for the delay and let us know that his test was negative. Our family is safe…for now. Hot, gratuitous tears rolled down my cheeks and added to the bubble bath puddles. I wiped them away and wrapped my baby in a fluffy, white towel.
Today was a good day.