Solitude is something rare as a parent of two, and one that I might have previously found myself longing for. Maybe on a beach, or in the mountains—some place that provides a respite from the bustling of daily life. Coming back to reality refreshed.
I’ve had ten days of it. Some would say it is a gift, but here’s the truth—it’s a gift I’d like to return.
I’ve come to the conclusion that it was never “if”—it was “when.” The one thing I’ve tried so hard to avoid for nearly eighteen months has made me a captive in my own home, avoiding my loved ones to keep them from the same fate.
Is it because I’m a teacher? Mother of two kids in school? Wife of a man who works in public service?
No. It’s because this virus doesn’t discriminate.
I’ll just say it. I got the Rona.
I’d been suffering with a particularly rough sinus infection, so my immunity was already down, and despite my efforts with masking, distancing, and hand washing, it found me. I was able to taste and smell one minute, and the next, my senses were blind. I burst into tears, knowing what had to be done, and swiftly.
I was brought lower than I’d been in years. I felt like an utter failure at personal, and familial, safety, and, at the same time, like a criminal for not realizing the signs until I was in the thick of it. Even my doctor originally thought I’d just mend after some antibiotics and rest. I was a danger to others, so I did what had to be done—I put myself up in our spare room like Rapunzel alone in her tower.
Early the next morning, I dragged myself to get tested, hoping against hope it wasn’t true. I was a wash of shame, guilt, frustration, and fear the moment it was confirmed on paper. Making the call to my husband was heart rending, and hearing my daughter’s fears for her own health was painful. Luckily, we had escaped from further contamination. It was only me.
I rushed to inform my school, so they could prepare for my absence, and I kept saying ‘I’m sorry’ to anyone and everyone that would be impacted. They tried to tell me it wasn’t like I’d planned on contracting Covid, but that didn’t take the sting out of the truth. I frantically made a week’s worth of plans for my students, and knew, as soon as I emailed them in, that it would be better if I could be there. It was like knowing Titanic was going to sink even before the iceberg was in sight. Helplessness in its purest form.
The minute hand never moved so slowly as it did this week. I’m thankful that my symptoms did not worsen, although there have been many sleepless hours wondering if I’d need greater medical care. I was afraid to close my eyes. It’s like I was on the outside of myself, looking in—what a strange sensation. I was my own nurse, because no one else could be. Bless all of those in the medical profession—we patients are a lot of work! I’ve had to vigilantly wipe every surface I touch, do my laundry separate from everyone else, not share utensils, use a different restroom. There has been so much anxiety. What if I was the cause of another illness? I couldn’t live with myself.
Although my ten days have been fraught with worry, there have also been some moments of peace. I truly believe that God deals out circumstances that are meant to test our fortitude and our faith, and will say that one benefit of being forced into solitude is that it’s given me time to count my blessings.
It has shown me (which I already knew before) the strength of my husband in a crisis. We have been living the ‘in sickness and in health’ component of our vows this week, and our house would have collapsed without him. He even dealt with the added pressure of work during an-almost Hurricane during all of this. Did I tell you I could see his superhero cape peeking out from under his dress shirt? We are so lucky in him.
It has allowed me to lean on my father and my mother in law in times of emergency and desperation. Without their help, my children would have succumbed to this virus. I’m grateful for them.
As I lay on my makeshift air mattress ‘bed’ for one last night, while my family sleeps soundly in their beds, I have to say that this experience has taught me what little busy nothings I take for granted everyday.
Let’s just say that I’ll wake up tomorrow with an even more fervent wish to protect those whom I love. Praying tonight for those who cannot reunite with their loved ones so swiftly. Thankful for every breath I take.