Here’s My Personal Experience Losing a Family Member to COVID-19
Editor's Note: Liberty is the morning show co-host on our sister-station, MY 105.3 in Evansville.
The first COVID-19 death reported in Indiana was way back on March 16, 2020. That seems like 50 years ago, doesn't it? Shortly after that, cities and states began to shut down, and we found out that grocery clerks were some of the most essential people out there. Some of the stores even carved out special times for customers who had the greatest risk of catching the coronavirus.
Over the summer, it kind of seemed like, unless you were on vacation or in a nursing home, your chances of getting sick were pretty slim. People were wearing masks (For the most part) and we were trying to get used to this 'New Normal'. The symptoms could be anything from headache or fever and everything in between.
Fast forward to fall, and now our numbers of positive COVED-19 cases, hospitalized patients and deaths is where we never wanted it to be. But why? There is a story for each family. I want to give you a little peek behind the curtain to see how easily this can spread, to some people and not to others, and what's like when one of your family members is among the 2,456 deaths in Indiana.
If you know me, you can probably guess that I'm a hypochondriac. I also stress about any and all outcomes that would be the worst. I have passed the anxious gene on to Chase. As soon as things shut down, he wanted to stay far away from anything that could get his grandparents (PaPa & MeMe) sick. I think he left the house twice for haircuts and that's it. Once school started, we decided to do the virtual option, since MeMe was a retired teacher, this was a great situation.
We've had a couple of close calls and some quarantining in our office, so I wore my mask when I was around MeMe. Chase even social distanced me when I had a scare, so he wouldn't pass it on. The CDC says that older people and those with certain pre-existing conditions should stay home, limit interactions and avoid large gatherings. Indiana Governor Holcomb advises to 'Keep your social circle small'. Surely your family is included in that circle, But what if they live out of state?
Over Labor Day Weekend, Papa and MeMe took a weekend to visit close family in another state. By Wednesday, MeMe did not feel well and tested positive for COVID-19. I panicked, so Chase and I were tested - Both negative. Doug also had a negative test. By Saturday, Chase developed a fever, and just didn't feel good. This time he tested positive, but Doug and I were both negative. It took about a week for PaPa to test positive. During this time, MeMe was in the hospital, released and then re-admitted. No one was allowed to see her, although she could occasionally send texts. We've gotten kind of used to her being in the hospital for fluids when she's dehydrated, but she always came home.
Friday things took quite a turn for the worse. Without all of the medical jargon, she couldn't breath. I know that her lungs collapsed and they put on a ventilator. Within a few hours, we were told that we could FaceTime our goodbyes. WHAT?? I thought the ventilator was supposed to fix everything, that's why we could run out of them.
What happened next is the sort of sad scene you might see in a movie, not in real life. I watched as my husband said goodbye to his mom for the last time. I really can't explain how close Chase and MeMe were. I mean, she was there when he was born, she's been his teacher, and he even wrote a song about her grilled cheese. Their special goodnight ritual is to say, 'I love you from the top of my heart, to the bottom of my heart'. That's exactly how he said goodbye to her. I cannot even imagine what it's like to be the nurse that makes those calls.
The COVID was traced back to the trip to see family. So please, if you've read this far, take precautions. If you have a family member or friend that is more likely to be hospitalized, but they still want to travel or go out without a mask, tell them our story.
As of today, Doug and I have both tested negative, but we were never able to properly distance from Chase. So, I have no way to explain that.