At the end of February this year, I sat in the large fan section, cheering on my niece as she swam at her collegiate conference. This trip marked the second year in a row, where we have traveled a couple of hours to meet her parents and the other devoted fans packed into the stadium, supporting these incredible female athletes. I love watching my niece swim; I always have. Her dedication and commitment to her sport still amazes me and fills me with pride. Not only is she an incredible athlete, but she also has a brilliant mind. Mix this with a humble spirit, and you cannot help but love her. No, this is not just Auntie talk where, I am somewhat biased toward her. I’m convinced everyone who knows her, must feel this way about my niece. Anyway, I bring up this event to brag about my niece and because this was the last experience in 2020 where life seemed “normal” for me. While sitting in the crowded stadium (during a break, of course), I read an article that discussed how the 3rd positive Covid-19 test in the United States was discovered in the county where I reside. My feelings of pride and love towards my niece pivoted to feelings of concern for my family, my community, my country, and our world.
In February, we knew little about this new disease other than what we were witnessing in different countries and stranded cruise ships around the world. After reading the article, I turned to my spouse and said we might want to create a plan in the event we went into lockdown, similar to what I witnessed occurring in China at the time. I also said (a bit dramatically), “Someone we know will either contract or die from this disease if it does not get contained.” My mind tends to future-trip if I do not keep my thoughts in check. This was six months ago. I’m not sure I’ll get to see my sweet niece swim at her conference this coming year, but we still have a while to go, and as we all know, a lot can change in six months. With this said, little did I know “the someone” who would contract Covid-19 would be my healthy 22-year-old daughter who recently moved back into our home.
As I write this, over 164 thousand American citizens have died from Covid-19, and over 5 million American citizens have tested positive. Globally over 700 hundred thousand people have lost their lives. These numbers do not lie, yet people still choose to make this pandemic political, and many are even calling it a hoax. Although, I respect the many opposing beliefs surrounding Covid-19, I can only share my experience of Covid-19 in our home.
Our state quickly shut down and started encouraging physical distancing. We thought that as long as we did our part, the curve would flatten, and we could go back to our normal functioning lives in a relatively short time. Each day significant changes occurred in our home. My daughter lost one of her jobs as a server. My spouse was put on partial furlough and began working from home. My youngest son, who is still in high school, began online classes, was laid off from his swim instructor position at our local health club, and his tennis season canceled. Reluctantly we canceled planned vacations, and the non-profit I work for postponed the in-person workshop people from around the country were flying in to attend. Because I already provided online counseling, my caseload almost tripled. All of a sudden, people knew and understood what tele-health was. Mental health professionals around the country found themselves working to balance their caseloads with self-care to continue providing quality care.
It did not take long for these routines to become ridiculously mundane and old; however, we followed the guidelines and chose to stay home. We watched in horror as millions of Americans lost their jobs, businesses, and health insurance. What was even more horrific was seeing thousands of people losing their lives to this disease. As the curve flattened and our country started to lessen the restrictions and began the reopening phases, so did our household. We discussed how we would move forward, taking each person’s thoughts and feelings into consideration. After all, we could not stay on lockdown forever. One such discussion surrounded My daughter’s invitation to her childhood friend’s wedding. The wedding was to take place seven hours away, just north of our hometown, which did not have one reported case of Covid-19. Whether we were weary of the lockdown or just became complacent in our thinking, we agreed it would be good for Lacie to celebrate her friend. We encouraged her to only stay at her older brother’s house, and if she visited any grandparents, to wear a mask and stay outside, six feet apart. Lacie left the next day.
I then received the call, “Mom, people at the wedding were exposed to corona, do you think I am going to get it?” My response, “No, sweetie, I’m sure you’re fine.” The second call then came, “Mom, Colton’s (her oldest brother, whom she was staying with) co-worker, has tested positive.” Finally, the third call, “Mom, I am not feeling so great.” Lacie drove home immediately (pulling over for a nap along the way), and she took a test the next day; however, those initial test results did not come back for thirteen days. In the meantime, she slept most of the time; we wore masks and continued to disinfect to the extreme. Ten days in and still no test results, we had her get tested at one of the rapid test sites. Within the hour, her results came back positive; this was substantiated three days later as her other results came back positive. The rest of us tested negative. At this time, we notified our close friends and family. In our hearts, we knew she had it even before the test results came in. At first, we thought maybe she just had the flu due to symptoms of weakness, fatigue, and headache. But when she lost her sense of taste and smell, we became concerned. In total, Lacie was down and out for about one month. She said she felt worse when she was sick with mono and pneumonia, just not as tired. Her symptoms were rather mild.
Once we were all off quarantine, life became semi-normal in this pandemic era, yet one thing has not. It has been nearly two months, and my healthy, athletic, and energetic 22-year-old daughter is still experiencing the lasting effects of Covid-19, including weakness, fatigue, and neurological symptoms. Despite the toll this virus has taken and continues to take on her body, she is back to work and even ran two-miles yesterday. I believe the size of the hero depends on the size of the opponent, and despite her small frame, Lacie’s grit (and sass) continues to outlast this particular opponent. My prayer for my daughter is that she continues to regain her full health, and the virus that ravaged her body does not have long-term effects.
After going through this experience, I have learned a few things. The first, no matter how weary this pandemic is, complacency in our thinking and behaviors is not the answer. I also know the virus is not a hoax, as some have suggested, and it is not “just like the flu.” I’ve heard several people say the virus is political, and more than once I’ve listened to people say the virus will go away on election day. I can tell you Covid-19 does not have a political affiliation, nor does it discriminate based on race, religion, gender, ability, age, sexual orientation, or identity. It is hitting some of these groups harder than others, but all groups can catch it. I have learned to practice gratefulness on a much larger scale. I am grateful for my daughter’s strength, which is outlasting Corona’s punch. I’ve also learned that as a nation, we cannot just sit back and complain about things, but instead, we must act to help others in need. I’ve witnessed this action in my community, which brings me significant amounts of gratitude. Although I see divide (mostly on the socials), I also have watched people working together through innovative ideas and kind hearts. Although I still worry about my daughter, my mommy heart can put pen to paper and blog once again.
In a country where we can think and speak freely, I ask that we have empathy and grace for one another through these challenging times. I ask that we practice compassion and love versus divisiveness and hate. I ask that despite our differences, we treat each other with basic respect. I ask that like my niece who is dedicated and committed to her sport, each American who is dedicated and committed to our country humbly, set aside our beliefs, and take a moment of silence to honor not only every American citizen who lost their lives to Covid-19 but also those around the world.
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