COVID-19…IN our Home in KC

Leading up to Thanksgiving, we spent hours conversing, arguing, sibling idea sharing, FaceTime phone calling, whiteboard listing, and renegotiating. We wanted to heed the science and respect the communal and national health efforts. We wanted to honor family and relationships, especially with those we haven’t seen for a long time. It was a Colorado Thanksgiving year and we haven’t ever thought of changing or switching up that schedule. It would affect us and all the extended families!

Drew and I couldn’t agree for days. Listening to each other and reading what we read made for some discussions fraught with emotion and tension. It was tiring. Our kids are thoughtful, opinionated, and involved members of our family decision making. What they think deserves a hearing and it is hard to make a decision with five strong personalities involved.

Eventually, we decided not to go to Colorado. Even our hostess was on board with a household-only celebration. It was unprecedented and unthinkable but it was the right call and we got on board. Onboard until…Park Hill decided to move to virtual school after the break. If we weren’t worried about returning to school, why not go to Colorado?

Andi and I reopened the negotiations. Drew raised great points even if I wouldn’t fully agree…yet.  Other close advisors were on the other side of my desires with their own convictions and wisdom. I didn’t want to win. There were risks either way. I was trying to prioritize what I believed and obey for the greater good.

Weighing significantly as well, was my commitment to serve as the funeral officiant the Friday before Thanksgiving for my extended family. It felt like an essential service to provide. I tearfully came around to the other side. By the funeral, we had laid the going to Colorado idea back to rest.

Our renegotiated plan was to hang with our KC Sustad/Bruce family. Only them. Our bubble of daily contact meant we were basically one household anyway. We would share the cooking load and brainstormed many fun weekend activities for our two families.

And then…Drew slept horribly Saturday night and woke up feeling less great on Sunday. By Sunday night, Drew had a fever, chills, body aches, and felt faint. He slept downstairs and we found him a test for Monday afternoon. Cold medicines helped and he wasn’t losing his sense of taste so COVID still felt like a far-off possibility. There was no known exposure, Drew had been so careful.

When Drew’s test came back positive Wednesday morning, he had already been isolating and we moved Eli into isolation as well with similar symptoms as Drew’s.  We were really surprised. We were sad.

As of Monday morning, the Thanksgiving plans were renegotiated once again. We would share food with the Bruce’s but just eat the five of us at our own house. Instead of the 30 people Colorado table, we’d be cozy as our own little family of five. And then, with the test result on Wednesday, our table of five became three.

Oaks dabbled in a fever, never above 99.1, and took a Tylenol one night. Andi and I never so much as sniffled.  Alas, I cooked and baked and did the dishes and tried to care for Drew and Eli on their two different floors. It’s a hard scenario we keep finding our marriage in, Drew the stubborn, tough, really-sad-it’s-him, sick person, and me, the reluctant, whiney, contemptuous nurse. Tis the thorn in our wedded flesh. And Thanksgiving made it worse.

However, we were surrounded by love, support, prayers, food drop-offs, encouragement, and kindness. I couldn’t name enough needs for the offers of help that came in. We had great times Face Timing Drew over dinner while he ate upstairs in his room. Eli was super kind and then very tough to sleep in the basement so I could have his bed upstairs and everyone could spread out.

The hardest part was not the sickness- even the sick guys would say that. It’s the questions (Where from? What did I do wrong? Why me? What now? Should we do this? Test again? Test them? Who do we tell? What is the timetable? What should we’ve done differently? Is it safe now?)

Also challenging for us was the distance inside such a small space. For a cuddly couple like we are, to sleep separate is cold and unsettling. Because we hug everyone around here often, there was often a hard stop when we’d want to reach for the sick guy walking by, in a mask, to put his dishes in the sink. To be alone with just our family when we had planned on playing with friends was really lonely. Because we partner so well and give our kids lots of jobs, losing a partner and one worker made a difference. In those ways, the days dragged on.

For us, we got better fast and never had it that bad. It didn’t spread to the others we were around on those unknown contagion days. Drew and Eli didn’t complain and healed well. We were so grateful for the deliveries of food, messages of hope, and helpful errands ran by our family and friends. Wow. So humbling. Our kids noticed the non-transactional, purely kind gifts from others. It was a shaping experience for us all.

Now, the compassion I have for anyone who has experienced the impact of COVID-19 has increased 100 fold. There is no way to know how deeply the ailments of sickness, anxiety, regret, isolation, loneliness, anger, bewilderment, and fatigue will affect you or your family, the only response should be prayer, support, and encouragement. The powerful gift health care workers are giving to us all is unbelievably selfless and important. I have never heard our family practitioner’s nurse sound so weary or know my good friends to be so seriously wiped.

We were taking it seriously and we were trying our best, and still the virus found its way into our bodies, into our house. We still have a lot of questions and are unsure of all the next steps.  On the other side (almost) we are beyond grateful we fared so well and we ache more severely with the ones we know and love who still, or might yet, struggle. We pray for and hope for the best for all those we don’t know who will find themselves in the middle of what they were trying to avoid.






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