I’ll never forget that sinking feeling in my gut as I read this message from my husband, “I’m positive. They tested me at the hospital last night. I’m sorry.”
I didn’t panic when I got that information, but I knew we needed to act quickly. I sent an email requesting early dismissal for my kids and whisked them off for Covid tests. My six-year-old was apprehensive about doing the nasal swab so I went to several different testing facilities in search of the saliva test. After an intense, unsettling day we went home and we waited.
My husband was quarantined in our bedroom, my kids were in their room and I was holding fort in the living room on the couch. It was a sleepless night. It hadn’t been confirmed yet but in my heart I knew there was no way that one of us could have Covid and not all of us. We are a loving, all-up-in-your face kind of family. My husband and I are affectionate. I feel my kids wrap their arms around me – for no reason other than they just want a hug, several times throughout the day. I usually match their affection with a kiss to the forehead. And no one goes to bed without being tucked in. I lean into them with affirmations of love and kiss their cheeks before turning out the lights. Just as in everyday life, I knew deep down inside that we were in this fight together.
I rose with the sun. There was no point lying there, pretending to rest. Then, one by one, my phone began pinging with notifications of our tests. It was confirmed – we were positive. Our journey to beat Covid as a family had officially begun.
We saw doctors and followed all medical and social protocols. That was the easy part. Reconciling my feelings and keeping my emotions in check was much harder.
My phone kept on pinging with messages from friends and colleagues wishing us well. I was stunned – grateful to the many people out there praying and pulling for us – but also angry. How did everyone know? In the past, my husband’s employer has always maintained the highest standards of confidentiality. A positive case was just that: a positive case, but it seemed our situation had been handled differently. When I voiced my concern about the breach of privacy, my husband explained that he had been given a choice. Although he was under no obligation to share his Covid status with anyone, it was noted that telling his immediate team members would be deemed a professional courtesy, so he obliged. He told the people that he worked most closely with and instead of returning the professional courtesy of keeping his confidence, his personal health information was shared widely.
This affected all of us, particularly my kids. Quarantine is a mandatory 10 days and each and every single day I worried more about how my kids would be treated once they returned to school than I did about what was going on in my own body. These adults had unwittingly quashed any chance my kids had of anonymity and I was extremely angry about that. I had every right to be and unfortunately, my feelings were justified in the worst of ways.
Notifications continued to roll in, this time from the parent WhatsApp groups. Naturally, having been notified about a positive case in the class, some parents were so afraid that sensitivity went out the window. I sat there feverish, with the most intense headache I’ve ever had in my life, reading things that fellow parents would be less likely to say to my face. My only hope was that their kids would grant mine more grace during this time. They didn’t.
One of my oldest boy’s classmates posted to their group chat, “Someone in our class has Covid. Which one of you bakaras [baqara] is it?” Referring to someone as an animal is disrespectful and reading that, knowing that my son was the intended target, was more painful than any body ache I experienced. My eyes welled with tears. It’s a good thing I couldn’t leave the house. I notified the school and they took action swiftly.
On the heels of this incident, a field trip was announced for my youngest boy’s class. Parents were instructed to sign up for a time slot and go at their leisure. I knew what was happening. Other mothers were coordinating to take them at the same time. I checked my phone incessantly and although this was scheduled for well beyond our quarantine time, I didn’t receive a single invitation to meet up. My kid is one of the sweetest, most caring members of his community and he had apparently been ousted.
Maybe it was all in my head. Perhaps I was being too sensitive, but it felt like we would need to claw our way back socially. Despite the mental and emotional anguish I endured, I knew better. My resolve in life is to love and hold on to the people that love me.
We went back out into the world and we were welcomed. So many people were happy to see us active and healthy again. Those are the people that I will stick with and anyone that fell away because of Covid can stay gone.