Christmas this year was certainly different. My family takes this virus seriously so my son stayed home, one daughter brought the family over on Christmas Eve for a private dinner and gift opening, and the other had us over on Christmas day for gift exchanging only, but we all had to wear masks.

I was okay with this arrangement because safety comes first. The three of them Facetimed each other to open their gifts — which had been delivered ahead of time. The only problem here was that I missed that part. I soon discovered that Christmas, for me, was watching my children interacting with and enjoying each other’s company — so no Christmas for me this year. But I survived because we were all safe.

At least until Sunday afternoon, Jan. 3, when a woman named Ann from contact tracing called to tell me I had been in contact with someone who tested positive — and that’s all she could tell me. Just the day before, my daughter had said she was getting tested because half her family didn’t feel well. With a sinking feeling, I told Ann it must be my daughter and she said no, that the case was older than that. In fact I only had two days left to come down with symptoms. She promised to call back every day to check on me.

It’s so frustrating not being allowed to know where I might have screwed up, or at least being allowed to know who or where it was so that I could decide for myself if I was near enough to that person to be as concerned as I was becoming.

But there would be worse things to worry about. Later that evening my daughter called to say she tested positive, and it was safe to assume that her husband and oldest child were too. I was frightened for them. When Ann called the next day, I told her this devastating news and she asked when I was last around her. Wednesday — her symptoms started on Saturday. And just like that I was no longer one day away from being cleared — but rather back to ground zero. Talk about a double whammy. I told Ann that she and I were about to become close friends.

She asked how I was feeling. Overwhelmed, frightened, frustrated were all words that came to mind but I knew she wanted to know about my health. I said I thought I was okay. The truth is, every ache, runny nose and sneeze became alarming. And my chest began to feel terribly heavy which frightened me all the more because not being able to breathe was the worst way to go. By day three I was a mess of nerves worrying if I was sick and that I might be spreading it to the hubby. 

But why was it that I could handle the treadmill and run up and down stairs if I was sick? Later that day I realized I felt fine until someone asked me how I was feeling and the heaviness in my chest came back. Aha! I was giving this to myself. I wasn’t sick, at least yet, but I still had five stressful days to go.

I thought back to that day with my daughter and reasoned that as she, my granddaughter and I played a new card game, I could have easily caught it, but rested in the thought that since my granddaughter wasn’t sick, the odds were good that I wouldn’t get sick either.

Then she got sick but it was a week after her parents and at the same time as our little Henry. I’m more scared for the kids than me and that’s saying a lot. Ann has been my lifeline, as she still called every day, checking on me and waiting to get my daughter’s paperwork. But the system is overwhelmed. There are not enough workers to keep up, which is why I slipped through the cracks for eight days the first time around. I can only hope more people with free time will offer to help. I’d be crazy right now without Ann’s reassuring voice over the phone.

Most frustrating was not being able to help my daughter because I couldn’t leave my house.

And of course God and I got into it. I had been praying all these long months to keep us safe so naturally I took it as a major snub when it hit my family anyway. I settled down when my family’s version turned out to be a head cold, and my version turned out to be a head case. It’s all good.

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