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Multigenerational Mom Muses on Twin Toddlers & Twenty-Something Daughters

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corona virus

when it's your child who's been tested for COVID-19

I’ve been waiting on my daughter’s COVID-19 test results for the past two days.

Her testing happened Saturday afternoon and was like something out of a sci-fi movie. Occupational Health arranged for her to drive from home to a clinic. Completely robed and masked nurses met her at the car. They immediately masked her as well, then opened all the doors and ushered her into an exam room where they swabbed her nostrils and walked her back to her car. She was in the clinic less than five minutes and never touched anyone or anything.

The nurse categorized her as High Risk. She’s traveled recently. She has all the symptoms (101 fever, extreme cough and debilitating headache, chills, and fatigue — everything but pneumonia, Thank You, Lord). And her job puts her up-close-and-personal with the virus.

She’s a surgeon, a seventh-year chief resident in Dallas, Texas. and one doc in her hospital has already tested positive.

I am an eleven-hour car ride away from her, and she lives alone. I’ve been a tangled-up torrent of worry and fear. I wanted to drop everything and drive to her, but I was told NO, that she must self-quarantine for the duration.

The thought of my girl locked in her tiny apartment, sick and weak, the groceries depleting, the garbage piling up, the loneliness setting in… all by herself, it was almost too much for my heart.

Luckily, she has a wonderful family of resident and attending physicians who surround and love her. I immediately reached out to two of her best friends, asking them to check in on her by phone. They stepped up like the angels they are.

Others swept in to assist as soon as they got word. Her research mentor volunteered to drop food at her door. Colleagues called nightly. Residents FaceTimed her. So many kept her in their sights, relatively speaking… I can never explain how much their support soothed my Mama’s Heart.

Midway through writing this blog, I got word she tested negative. So much weight has been lifted. I really thought the odds were stacked against her.

My sweet girl is embarrassed that she was ever tested. She feels guilty that others had to carry her weight while she was home sick. She’s so thankful she’s been cleared to go back to work and help carry the load.

Well, Mama Bear talking here, so bear with me.

She’s not the one who should be embarrassed. She’s not the one who should feel guilty. She’s doing her part to help fight this pandemic. She’s putting herself deliberately in harm’s way to help people in need.

But there are individuals out there who should be embarrassed and ashamed. People who refuse to see the seriousness of the situation and keep leaving their homes for careless contact with others. Conspiracy theorists who refuse to listen to the experts and think its all hype and hoax. Folks who strongly believe it is their God-given, American-born right to run their lives like normal.

Well, maybe it is. But life is not normal. It’s as far from normal as anything even the oldest among us has ever seen. And while citizens may have a right to live their lives as they choose, they also have the responsibility to look out for their fellow Americans.

And if they don’t care about their fellow man, they should at least care about their own families and friends — who they are putting at tremendous risk every time they venture out.

People are still playing soccer at Dellinger Park. They’re still meeting neighbors for barbecues and beers. They’re still sending their kids out for play dates with friends.

AND they are putting so many people at risk. The elderly. The infirm. And my child. At risk. And that’s not okay with me.

Medical professionals are working their bodies to the breaking point. They are on the front lines, giving so much.

People should at least be willing to give up some of their all-mighty freedoms for this short period of time.

For Goodness Sakes.

Finding Gifts in the Darkness

Last night, on the eve of our boys’ sixth birthday, our family did what we do every night. We turned on a lullaby, and while it played, Tate and I danced in the dark, and Parker and Mike tossed the football.

Tate is into interpretive dance these days — sort of ballet, sort of slow-mo breakdance. Parker is perfecting his quarterback stutter step. He fires three-foot bullets to his father; Tate pirouettes in our pas des deus.

It is my favorite time of day. I love how the boys still curl into our bodies like baby bats as we lift them into bed, clinging to our necks for kisses.

Last night, Mike and I snuck out after tucking them in, to sit on the their new birthday trampoline, have a glass of wine, and stare at the stars. There was a fine mist covering the sky. At first only Venus, in a blurry halo, was visible. But then, the night pulled back her veil — its long, wispy strands rushing off in every direction — to reveal the scattered, bright pinpoints of stars overhead. It was so peaceful.

I couldn’t help considering the chaos and uncertainty in the world right now, contrasted with the quiet, soothing simplicity surrounding us there in the dark.

A plane whirred overhead. An occasional cricket chirped. Someone had lit a bonfire not far away. The slight scent of woodsmoke drifted into the spaces vacated by the mist. A few doors down, the soft murmurs of back porch conversation.

Our neighbors had our same idea… seek refuge in the stillness of the night.

I wished upon a star then… that all the hazy uncertainty surrounding us would dissolve into studded pinpoints of clarity and hope. I prayed for fresh opportunities to emerge from the fog of fear and the fever of disease. Quickly and soon.

And I know it’s going to take a while longer. Still, if people who can stay home would just stay home. If they would stop running the roads and pounding their metaphorical chests and proclaiming themselves immune from the virus… Then it wouldn’t take nearly as long for us all to reach the other side of this pandemic.

The number of cases in Georgia has tripled overnight. Here in Bartow, we almost doubled. We’re climbing that exponential curve. We’re about to start knowing people who are sick. Some of us already do.

So stay home. Please. Find the stillness within to contrast the chaos without.

Sit on your porches, your patios, your trampolines. Sing songs and dance dances here in the dark. Because these are, indeed, dark times.

But there is sweetness to be found inside darkness, too. There is. Find those sweet, quiet rituals that can center your soul and soothe your worries.

Kiss your family. Take long baths. Star gaze. Read. Write. Meditate. Pray. Pray for those who are sick, pray for those who are in the battle zone fighting for patients’ lives, and pray for your fellow man.

Today, the boys have no birthday party. No school celebration. No family gathering.

But they have gifts. Gifts delivered by grandparents maintaining a socially-safe six feet between them. Gifts delivered by Amazon from grandparents with three big states between them. And gifts delivered by a novel virus currently sweeping the world.

Yes, gifts have even arrived courtesy of this pandemic. Because these boys have been gifted with lots of time with their parents. And we’ve been gifted with lots of time with them. And that is a gift not to be taken for granted.

Because they are growing up so fast. And we are growing old even faster.

Yes, there is sweetness to be found in the darkness. So when night pulls back her veil and reveals all her scattered, bright pinpoints of simplicity and light, receive those gifts. Relish them.

Oh… and Stay the F at Home.

flatten the curve, or life as we know it might flatline

If I said I wasn’t scared, I’d be lying. If I said I wasn’t frustrated, I’d be lying.

There’s so much of the unknown about this whole pandemic. It’s creating pandemonium in the world and in our hearts. We are all victims of COVID19. Some physically. Others financially. Still more emotionally.

Our immediate family has been impacted, but so far, it’s been pretty easy on us. Mike and I are both teachers. We’ve got our boys home with us. We’ve got computers and online access and assignments for our students, and books and computers for our boys. We have plenty of food and ample shelter. We can hunker down in our home and ride out this virus relatively (hopefully) unscathed.

But not so with everybody. Not so with my girls. One, a surgeon, lives alone in Dallas, Texas. I worry about her nonstop. She’s putting herself directly in the path of COVID19 every time she enters the hospital. Soon, she’ll be back in the trauma bay, deep in the ER where all patients will initially come.

If she gets sick, there’s no one at home to take care of her. She went to the grocery store last night and there was almost nothing left on the shelves. No milk, no bread… no staples. She found frozen croissants, some cheese products, and precooked bacon. The contents of her grocery sack were slim and random.

My other daughter works in a dental office. Her state has mandated a school shutdown (like most states in our country at this point). That means, she’s going to be home with her two boys and potentially no income.

I worry about my sister. She’s in the hospitality business. She books conventions for corporations at luxury resorts. She has zero income at this point. The market for her profession is far emptier than the slim and random contents of my daughter’s grocery sack.

I worry about my father. He’s 78 and stubborn as his beloved mule Kate. He lives alone and refuses to stockpile a thing. He continues to venture out into the community. His church was the very epicenter of the corona virus in our community. He’s refuses to read articles from his smart phone because he believes it will be infected with a virtual virus, but he readily went back to his church to distribute food to those in need at the food kitchen. He is living in denial. I admire his good will, but I’m insanely frustrated with his lack of sense.

I’m concerned for my friend’s father, who was scheduled to have an urgent surgery this week. It’s now been rescheduled. According to my surg-onc daughter, doctors are currently rescheduling all surgeries except emergent ones. Cancelations include urgent, critical surgeries for cancer patients. It’s an ethical dilemma that’s tearing at her soul.

I worry about my students. So many rely on the sanctuary of our hallways to escape hardships at home. They find refuge and love inside our classrooms that sadly they don’t find inside their houses. These students are now struggling alone. We’ve implemented certain safety nets to try to keep an eye on these students, but some are unknown to us. I fear for them always. I definitely fear for them now.

I am sad for my senior students, who are losing a large chunk of their spring semester — with the possibility of losing even more. They are isolated from friends and missing major milestones. They’re approaching a significant and often uncertain crossroads in their lives — now with the added burden of uncertainties none of us has ever experienced. Their sorrow is not to be ridiculed or minimized. I am so sad for them.

I have friends who’ve had to postpone weddings and proms and birthday parties and (possibly) graduations. Celebrations and life events are being put on hold. We are all hurting. We are all victims of COVID19.

The pandemic is impacting us in so many ways. People need to listen to the experts. Listen to our government. Listen to your friends and family.

STAY HOME.

Quit feeding the virus. Quit spiking the curve. Have we learned nothing from China and Italy and Korea? Flattening the curve is something we need to take seriously. Staying home is something we need to take seriously.

And yes, a lot of things will flatten right along with that curve — physical health for some; financial health for many; emotional health for us all — if we don’t flatten it, life in all its myriad forms as we know it, just might flatline. We can and will help each other pick up the pieces.

But first, STAY HOME. So we can all get back to normal — a new normal, perhaps — but back to normal.

STAY HOME.

Please.

Sweet Nothings are Everything Right Now

Primary school drop off was a ghost town on Friday morning. So was the toilet paper aisle.

But I would rather the ghost towns be in driveways and aisle-ways than in the hallways of our homes and the alleyways of our hearts.

These are scary times. Every day we hear of more infections, more hospitalizations. The friend two doors down, the principal one county over, the young mother with two sweet littles. The dozens waiting confirmation. The hundreds hosting symptoms.

Every time we check our social media — which is all we can do since this social distancing has been implemented — we see more scary things. Read more scary things.

But perhaps the scariest of all is the vicious political finger-pointing. This virus is targeting us all. Let’s not target each other.

In the past, I’ve been the first to rail against the machine and wag my finger and tongue. But right now, the most important thing for us to do is find our humanity and discard our hate.

We need to band together on our bandwidths, not launch hatred from our laptops.

Italy should be a lesson to us all. How to quarantine, yes. But also, how to love. How to carry on loving one another despite social distancing. In Italy, they’re singing from balconies. Serenading from rooftops.

And we… we can do the same. From our keyboards.

Spread kindness and love via laptop and phone. Share all the puppy pics, the family snapshots, the prayers, the love. Whisper sweet nothings into your friends’ and loved ones’ virtual ears.

Because right now, they are far from nothing. Right now, they’re everything. Because we are running woefully low on Sweetness right now.

My oldest twin boy, five days from six years old, whispered the sweetest little nothing-that’s-everything into my ear yesterday morning.

Parker Candela, age 6(ish)

You said it Parker. And I agree.

Let’s water everyone’s eyes with beautiful things. All the kind, sweet, joyful, loving, prayerful, beautiful things.

Our heart health and humanity depends upon it.

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