In 2009 our 4-year-old and 6-year-old daughters were diagnosed with a very rare and progressive genetic disorder. In the years that followed, our daughters’ health declined. Their bodies fought to do the most basic tasks and they became susceptible to even the most common illnesses. Things like the cold and flu that are a bummer for most people were potentially deadly for them. Necessary doctor appointments were scheduled during months when the risk was lowest. We avoided large crowds. My husband and I washed our hands meticulously to protect our girls from that which they could not protect themselves. We bowed out of family and friend gatherings where people were ill or possibly ill. Hand sanitizer sat by our door and we didn’t care if you felt weird when we asked you to sanitize before coming into our home.
We did it for our girls and we would do it a hundred times again to protect them from avoidable sickness. We kept them safe until we couldn’t and they died from complications of their disease in 2012 and 2014.
For many years of my life I was a caregiver. I’ve lost two children, a parent, and grandparents. I’ve had to walk through the weeds of sickness and hardship and this much I know is true. Death is a part of life, but to care for and love the vulnerable is a gift.
Do I have PTSD over the things I’ve lived through and the loss of people I loved? Probably. Has that PTSD influenced my response to COVID 19? You better believe it.
I do not live in a place of fear. I do not stay awake at night wondering who else that I love might die. I do not carry around anxiety or worry about the unknowns that might get us all. I do not question my faith or the goodness of the world around me.
But I do pay attention and act accordingly when my actions could potentially affect the well being of others. I am not a scientist, doctor, or nurse. I cannot and will not speak to the specifics of this virus, but I will listen when people more educated than I say that I can help protect others by staying home and I will give thanks that the life I currently live affords me this ability. I will stay home to protect those who cannot. It is literally the least I can do and I will do it gladly. I will stay home to protect my family and yours.
The scars I earned from loving and losing people I love did not imprison me, they freed me from a life of selfishness and perceived invincibility. I am here. I get to live this beautiful life and today I get to live it at home with my little family. We are fortunate to have a safe home with outdoor space to enjoy. For now that’s where you’ll find us. This time at home won’t be wasted and the gifts of being here will not slip by me. We might have to walk through the weeds, but even weeds can grow pretty little flowers. We will stay home and that is not a decision of fear, that is a decision of freedom.
For more stories of standing happily in the awkward middle of life, love, and parenting, follow Happy Like This by Mandy McCarty Harris.