COVID in the House
Well. We’ve got it.
We who, since mid-March, have essentially cloistered – masked, sanitized, distanced. We even disinfect our keys and doorknobs. How in the world did this virus find us?
Our symptoms are quite light. We’ll make it fine. But, like you, we have too many friends who have been seriously affected. Stories of days in the hospital – a few on ventilators – some have died. The fear, grief, and loss are profound.
We’ve taken COVID-19 seriously from the beginning. Sure, it’s inconvenient. It’s awkward to wear masks, and increasingly we feel starved for social contact. Inside the house it’s too empty of gatherings by candle and sparkle light with friends – you know, the ways we make it through the dark days around solstice.
But no. Patience, the experts urge.
We’d planned to push it just a bit – to drive to spend some time with my mom. She’s 86. Pure love and part grit. Like how every Thursday for months, and until quite recently, she’s driven herself to her church at a busy intersection in Decatur, GA. There, she’s joined a handful of friends sitting in woven beach chairs holding signs. Hers reads, “BLACK LIVES MATTER!” Toward the end of July, when Congressman Lewis died, she added to the other side of her sign, “GET IN GOOD TROUBLE.” She’d still be at it, except for an ER visit that interrupted the flow.
It was that interruption that did it. It was time to find a way to be with her. Of course, it’s always time, but you know how those scares can get to you.
We were on it. Had a rock-solid COVID-times strategy. Our van is 100% self-contained, except for gasoline. We had food for four days and small boatloads of hand sanitizer. We researched public land to park and sleep in along the way. We were set.
Last Monday, just to be safe, we drove the short way from our home in Bozeman, Montana to the parking lot of Deaconess Hospital and sat in a line of cars. We sat and sat. Two PPEd heroes chatted with us along the way. The first had a clipboard and asked after symptoms and such. I admitted to the cough, the light headache, the episodic sore throat, saying they seemed to be allergy symptoms. I mentioned plans to be with my mom and recited her age. Through the plastic and cloth covering her face, that hero said, “I’m listing you as symptomatic.” That seemed ok. After all, we wanted quick results.
Next, we sat some more. We idled, we yielded, we merged and finally arrived at person two – an entirely radiant and friendly human cloaked in a sanitary gown and gloves, in a mask, plastic shield and goggles. She joked with us, and she stuck stuff up my nose, and that was that.
Two days later on Wednesday, I thought to look for the results. It was pro forma. I felt fine. So, I chatted with Gary as I opened the webpage – talked about the nonsense language – SARS CoV2 RNA, RT (for ‘real time’) PCR. Then I saw a word in bold – Detected. Detected. What did that mean? (Sometimes it takes a minute to register.) Detected.
There went the drive to Georgia. Calls happened with family, with healthcare folk.
Yes, all of that. But the reason I’m here with this story now is because of this. If it weren’t for remembering to be responsible, for getting my very first COVID test just in case, I would never have known. I would have continued rationalizing my symptoms as normal allergies. At best, I would have been contagious to anyone who came near. Those chances would have been slim, because of our aforementioned cloistering, but – well – at worst, I would have carried this to Georgia and my mom.
That’s where stuff gets REAL.
I would never forgive myself if I transmitted this disease to my mother. In fact, I would never forgive anything that did that. I would never forgive the disease. It’s a set of feelings too extremely big to write down – to say – even to think.
It’s likely that we’re in this mess because of the ways human acts have brought on severe imbalance in the ecosystems that sustain plants and animals – and us. But that’s for another blog.
The fact is, we’re in it. And this pandemic calls us to be as wise as we are able. It calls us to take the action we can take inside and near our own lives for being part of the solution. Anger and grief are along for the ride, now. We can admit them and, with that, move with even more clarity and actual kindness. At least it’s worth giving a go.
I will see my mother again. Too many will not. And this is where we are. A time fraught with threat and anxiety – and a time brimming with opportunity.
We are capable of suffering with our world, and that is the true meaning of compassion. It enables us to recognize our profound interconnectedness with all beings. Don’t ever apologize for crying for the trees burning in the Amazon or over the waters polluted from mines in the Rockies. Don’t apologize for the sorrow, grief, and rage you feel. It is a measure of your humanity and your maturity. It is a measure of your open heart, and as your heart breaks open there will be room for the world to heal. That is what is happening….
Oh, dear Mary, do get well quickly and, yes, you will see your mother in the not-too-distant future.
Love to you both.
Thank you for sharing this story! A sobering reality for all of us.
Mary so very eloquent and tragic all at once. I’m so thankful you and Gary are doing alright. Brother David is having a similar experience with the virus. Tierra’s more extreme but she’s recovering.
Love you, love your sweet mamma too. Thanks for this story, and thanks for the reminder.
Thanks for sharing. So sorry to hear that the COVID has hit you guys, and that you won’t be able to visit you mother. She sounds like a spirited, woman, imagine that! I don’t know that I knew that she lived in Georgia. When things clear and you make that trip you should stop by for a visit with us in the Smokies! We have plenty of extra space and, like many, want to do better at making sure to connect and visit with people and better appreciate friends and being able to do that.
Keep up your good work of encouraging positive change, seeing the good in people and the power of wild places and things to help heal us.
Thank you for sharing. Healing thoughts and prayers to you both. It is a good reminder to us all to continue to be vigilant about protecting our vulnerable loved ones even when we are so tired of this virus.
Oh sweet Mary, I’m so sorry that you have been exposed but thankful that you took the initiative to get tested. Praying you heal quickly and completely and that Gary stays healthy. I love, love, love the picture of your Mom!
Thanks for sharing your deeply personal and very universal message. May your healing go smoothly and have the lingering benefits of immunity.
Well that stinks – I know how careful you guys have been. Good thing you got tested and hopefully you are on the mend. I hope Gary is able to avoid it while caring for you. Its such a tough situation but silver lining: not to spread it further or to your mom unwittingly!
Our best to you both!!
Oh no, please take care. Be thankful you were tested before traveling, and yes you will see your mom soon. Love to you both!
Sending you all the warmth and healing energy I can, along with the cleansing rains of the Northwest. I’m thankful for your friendship and guiding light in this time of shadow and darkness. May your healing be rapid and effective–for you, your mom, and many others we know who are succumbing to the symptoms.
Love, Love, LOVE, mimi
Love that Mary Alice. Mary, hope you are improving every day.
Mary, Thank you for sharing your warm heartfelt story….It is a true act of love on so many levels….Your Mother sounds like a wonderful person.
We’ve never met, but I’ve known Gary for many years….I’m so sorry to hear about your ailment and that you are positive for the Covid 19 virus….. Your story has me considering whether or not I should attend Thanksgiving with four friends.
I’m exhausted……as I think we all are……. by the last four years, and COVID-19 and the inability of this country to rally around the developing science and intelligence is depressing. To think that many make it their life’s work to spread harmful disinformation both saddens and sickens me.
Wishing you both love and light
Ahh, so sorry but thankful you both are managing well. Thank you for this very informational post because it shines a light on how pervasive this virus can be. Best of restored health to you and Happy Thanksgiving!
Get well soon dear Mary. Glad to know that your symptoms are mild. Hopefully, this will give you some good immunity. May the “T” cells be strong and lasting. Love You dear friend.
Dear Mary and Gary,
I am so glad you realized on time that you caught this virus and did not visit your mom dear Mary. I hope both of you recover fully and will not have any lingering symptoms. Holding both of you in my heart.
Mary, your words carry a lot of meaning. It is so hard for all of us to deal with this daily and for so long. Sounds like your mom is made of tough stuff and you will see her again.
Get over this and continue to write. You make a difference.
Dear Mary, I hope your mother stays well. I hope you and Gary recover quickly. It is a good thing I am something of an introvert. I’ve been alone since this started, with minimal contact with the outside world. Not seeing my daughters or my grandchildren who live elsewhere. Seeing a few coffee shop friends. Seeing some of my retired National Park Service friends, but always under safe conditions. Grocery shopping. Always wearing a mask. Always disinfecting. Hoping I make it through. I walk a lot. I read. I’m working on rebuilding a section of my backyard fence. I’ll make it mentally. I’m doing everything I can to make it through health wise. Bless you both, and wishing your mother the best.
Gary and Mary, I am so sorry to hear that Covid has entered your world. I am thinking of you and sending quick recovery energy your way. I think your mother is a pistol, Mary. It seems the apple didn’t fall from the tree!
Happy Thanksgiving. We will get through this with time and patience.
Dearest Mary and Gary–I’m sending good tidings to you both from Portland with much love and healing thoughts. Sorry covid has upended your plans to visit your mom, but glad you are not too sick. Be well!
Oh no, be well. Such strange times we are living in. Speedy recovery to you along with wishes for sweet family connections when things feel better.