Thanks to the digital world, it isn’t that hard.
During this season of Coronavirus, COVID-19, my father’s side of the family has two new members. Two of my first cousins have welcomed baby girls within nine months of each other. The first was born in January of this year and the second was born during this month, October. For my baby cousin born this past January, I had planned to visit my hometown of Savannah, Georgia in mid-March, but that is when this global pandemic showed us what it could do and the first round of restrictions was put in place not too long after.
I am fond of new life. I am a fan of witnessing the births of babies and showering them with trinkets and necessities upon their arrival. Being that I am five hours away from my hometown, traveling home was always a one to two times per year investment, however, those tables have turned drastically. I have not or will probably not be home for the foreseeable future which cuts me out of witnessing the growth of these two bundles of joy unless . . . it’s through digital devices and photographs.
I am blessed to be able to watch various stages of each take form by way of digital media or hear about their constant shifts in life through the voices of their parents. Had this not been a resource to use, I would be completely in the dark. And I don’t think I’d like that at all.
As much as I appreciate the gift of new life, giving birth during a global pandemic–must be five times more stressful than without one. I have so many questions for women who are pregnant or those new to motherhood. How did you manage to stay safe? What additional precautions are you taking/have you taken? What will you do to ensure your newborn doesn’t contract the Coronavirus, COVID-19? Will you allow any family to visit and if so, whom?
Rates of SARS-CoV-2 infection in neonates do not appear to be affected by mode of delivery, method of infant feeding, or contact with a mother with suspected or confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection. All neonates born to mothers with suspected or confirmed infection should be considered as having suspected SARS-CoV-2 infection when test results are not available.Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, August 3, 2020.
Hospitals and outpatient facilities in most states test their patients prior to any invasive procedures or surgeries, so it’s safe to assume that any woman going into labor has been tested prior to delivery and will be tested again before leaving the hospital. All precautions are in place for both baby and new mom, but how can we be sure?
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My father has a display of the three wise monkeys in his garden. It is his place of peace. In the garden, there is a fountain — water flows rhythmically from the fountain’s mouth. A gush of purity envelops its passersby. My father is meticulous in his efforts to instill a sense of calm and undying appreciation for nature in us — me and my siblings. We gather at his feet, adorned in the mellifluous breeze from the flowers, captured by his tales of the dark & weary.
He looks much older than his age. His wiry gray hair stands on his head. He shuffle-kick walks — his whole body shakes. A dance of convulsion springs forth. He is a quiet man. A man who doesn’t mind letting the air speak for him.
We listen. We want to become pure, like the surrounding air.
My father was a letters man — he delivered letters to widows. Letters their loves left behind but never shared. He had been their “Go-to Guy” for giving them one last moment of happiness. Thirty years of this and one day, he stopped.
He had been ordered by the City of Hernadin to cease and desist. Love was no longer in. No one could receive it. No one could give it. My father, the hopeless romantic, hard-loving man, could not grasp this concept. He continued his efforts in secret.
On a quiet, black-sky day, a hired hand attacked my father. The Mayor had enough of his deviance. They cut out my father’s tongue, cut off my father’s ears, and gouged out his eyes.
He didn’t fight back. No, he remained genteel, my father. If he had eyes, he’d cry. If he had a tongue, he’d wail. If he had ears, he’d tune in to the assailant’s actions during this stripping of himself. Instead, he’d laid alone in his own blood on the cold concrete and waited for the pain to end.
You may think how do I know all of this if my father cannot verbally tell me. He’s an artist. He sits in the solace of his garden and creates. He sketched every account — every gruesome detail and bid us utter silence. We were to never speak of it again. And I haven’t until now.
You see, my father is dying. His last request is that we bury him under the three wise monkeys, the cold of the sooty dirt piled upon his pine-boxed coffin drenching his spirit. He has written every detailed order of action and has labeled each with one of our names.
I have the spirited task of bathing his body. A ceremonial bath with the heads of tulips, roses, and lilies followed by the lighting of incense and sage is first on the list. We will sing his favorite songs and eat his favorite fruits.
My sister is tasked with praying over his body as he’s lowered into the unforgiving ground. She will chant as we throw gritty handfuls of clay onto his coffin.
My brother is tasked with singing a hymn, one of his choosing, while he plays the harp. It can be the harp only. No other music will accompany this ensemble.
When all of this is complete, we will lead the guests away from the burial site and find our way back to my father’s garden.
We will share his stories. We will cry. We will remember the man he was and be thankful for his blood.
Three weeks from his funeral, I am also tasked with lapidifying the flower garden. Per my father, “When my last breath meets the sky, I will turn flowers to stone.”
It’s the one thing I don’t want to do.
But I will. Because of my father.
I stretch out my hands to my lover,
my life — he lifts his wandering eyes
up at me, happy to catch my silhouette
still as the nightlife.
This now is a scary place
to be — we linger on each other’s
tongues, hopeful to create passion
in the pique of all pain.
I know he doesn’t really see me —
he looks past this skin, calls me
his caramel, hot-mama, Georgia-Peach
elite. I am his Upper Echelon under
the covers, undercover — hidden
We keep secrets nestled in the grooves
of our aging skin, collecting them
as we meet another year.
I tell him I’d live in his curls if I could —
a universe of wonder for hair.
He smiles. He loves a good
compliment. His full lips
measure the amount of stress
I’ve stored in my collarbone.
By his hands, relief appears.
I pay him in orgasms.
When we go out, our hands
are at our sides, we stand close
but far — close but away from the
scent of each other’s breath.
We feign tolerance of the
stares that follow us.
I nod and smile — nod and smile,
keep my composure.
He tells me the people in this
neighborhood don’t see color and
I worry even more. How can they
know me if they don’t see me?
I fiddle with my newly broken fingernail
and ignore what he says just
for a moment.
We pass time by walking two blocks —
white picket fences fill my eyes.
Election signs for the Elephant
are markers for miles.
“They don’t see color, huh?”
He is silent. He pulls me closer,
latches on to my hand, and
quickens his pace.
I keep step — keep time, my swollen
heart beats faster as we exit
The depth of our essence — this skin
will not protect us, not even
from the colorblind.
I lay in his thoughts — stir myself
deeper as a mixture of lust, love, and
curiosity. He plucks his brain
for a better view of this world.
There is none.
It saddens him to realize this.
I hug him close to me — I knew
what he didn’t.
I prepared myself for it
before we left the house.
The job I mentioned here, I got it! I interviewed for the Central Scheduling Specialist Entry Level I position this past Wednesday with the department supervisor and nailed it! On Friday, I had a second interview, this time–with the department director and did quite well in it and was offered the job on the spot.
The scheduling position is still within radiology and I will continue to have an opportunity to provide “remarkable care” to our organization’s patients, but from behind the scenes. I will be taking inbound calls from hundreds of patients throughout several markets and scheduling them for the hundreds of thousands of imaging services we provide.
The position is completely remote/work-from-home and as soon as I hear from HR (which should be sometime early next week), I’ll be able to begin my 30-day notice with my current job. I already have my resignation letters drafted up and will provide one to my direct supervisor and the other to our center manager.
When my 30-day notice is complete, I’ll begin rigorous training at the business office for scheduling. The duration will be several weeks. When that’s complete, I’ll be sent home with my equipment and from there on, expected to shine as I have for the last 2 years and 1/2 with this organization and I will.
I feel like I have to slap myself. I cannot believe that in about one month’s time, I will no longer be expected to physically screen or come in contact with patients on a daily basis. Doing what I do puts an incredible fear inside me and every day is a task heavier than the one before.
No more asking patients to put on a mask or imploring that they keep it on. No more coming in contact with patients who tested positive and decided to use one of their quarantine days to come and get some X-rays completed. No more advising doctors’ offices of proper protocol and our company’s COVID-19 algorithm. No more reminding people that we are on a no-visitor-rule and no they cannot have their mama’s sister’s best friend’s aunt with them in the waiting area. The list goes on.
I prayed for this . . . for the chance to feel some semblance of peace and safety once again and my prayers have been answered. I am overwhelmed with excitement and joy and I can only hope this decision will prove itself best for me in the future.
I feel as though it will be.