If I had a magic wand, my life would not include me saying the following statement multiple times a week: “No, I am not taking any visitors at this time. Due to my line of work, it’s best that I do not.” For those of you who do not know, I am a Patient Access Specialist turned Screener for an imaging facility. My transitional position, due to the Coronavirus COVID-19, places me front and center in surveying patients and taking their temperatures prior to entering our waiting areas. I screen anywhere from one hundred twenty to one hundred eighty-five people per day with a low to moderate percentage of exposure to the virus.
Some family members get the importance of my refusals to their requests, others want to test the waters of me and see how far they can take their reach without me blocking it or shutting it down. I am not one who likes repeating herself but for this, I make sure I am loud and clear.
I will miss out on a few opportunities for gathering with family this summer and it is because I have to take every precaution to ensure my safety and the safety of others. My health is important. I want to be sure it remains intact for the foreseeable future.
I have brothers, cousins, uncles, and aunts who want to visit from various Coronavirus, COVID-19 hotspots across the nation and in my mind, all I can think is, “Why would you want to visit me while we’re in the middle of a global pandemic? Why do you think I want you to?” Politely declining family gatherings and visitations is becoming my forté but I have no regrets. At least, not right now.
But how will I feel when the night barks and love has no bite? What will I do when the yearning for a hug becomes the one prayer I lend to God religiously? Am I strong enough? Will my defiance of running toward “some sense of normalcy” get the best of me? Only time will tell.
Right now, I am in avoidance mode and for several reasons. I cannot, in good faith, slack off in any way on the methods of survival and remaining virus-free if I give in to the simple requests of others.
To an unbearable extent, everyone is antsy. They’re ready to experience life the way they knew it to be Pre-Coronavirus days, but I am faced with the reality of its deadliness every single day and I am in no rush to gain a life back that does not have what I mostly need from it.
It breaks my heart to not be able to see, spend time with, and share in the love of my beautiful family, but I love them enough to know I am bad for their health and to keep myself away from them regardless of their pleas. I love them enough to want them to live through this phase of life, come out unscathed, and tell the story of it.
The night does pull at me and oftentimes, I haven’t the strength to conquer it. A few loud barks from its deep voice doesn’t scare me. I don’t even flinch.
But, I will be completely transparent, it’s the absence of the vastness of love and all versions of it I miss the most. It is the intensity of a thing I’ve forced myself to believe I want more than breathing. I want to live through this pandemic and share stories of it with the same loved ones pressing me to open up my door and let them in.
Will I lose their admiration and perhaps the closeness we’ve had over the years? It is a possibility. But, I’d rather keep the potency of love in its full form in my heart than run the risk of losing its bite.
No one tells you what
to feel when your co-worker
is diagnosed with a virus
that does not relent, has no remorse,
could not care less about your
family, friends, lifestyle, sexuality,
or economic status.
They don’t prepare you for
the see-sawed up and down
roller coaster ride you will experience,
constantly checking to see if he’s okay.
Your insides grow numb,
your mind loses its pistol-like
ability to adapt to anything, and you
find yourself saying . . .
“It’s okay.” “It’s okay.” “It’s okay.”
But, you don’t know.
You can’t know.
You have no earthly idea
if it’s okay.
One day, he’s breathing well
on his own, the next — oxygen levels
have tanked and ICU is clamoring
to scoop up another body and
swivel the bed up against the back wall
of a hospital room that smells more like
alcohol and potent disinfectants
than a place someone goes to
When you work in healthcare,
you grin and bear it, tuck your feelings
deep within you, move on, and
fight until your bones crack and ache
and it pains you to sit down, and you take
your ass home, shower, cook, walk your dog,
and find thirty minutes of rest before you
get up and do it all over again.
And you still wonder,
“Will he make it today”
or “Will today be the day
our higher-ups plod around with
heavy feet to tell us of his death?”
You don’t want to hear the sound
of the Grim Reaper coming with
his scythe ready to strike.
You pray for this loved one, call in
backup and ask them to send warriors
with fangs that cut through tough flesh
and hearts of pure gold.
God becomes a friend you argue with and
confess things you’ve held deep within
you for decades.
You tell him you’re tired of his bullshit —
you want him to let this one be.
Let this man live so his nine-year-old
son can see him smiling once again.
You tell him to get it together and not
make any more room for lives
senselessly lost to something we
And then you cry yourself to sleep
again — just like you did
the night before. And the one before that.
And the one before that.
Then, you wake up,
put on the face they ask you
to wear to work, cover it with a mask,
and ready yourself for more
of the same.
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