After a couple of weeks away on holidays, it is good to be back – well, sort of.
As some of you may know, our family ventured west for the first time since June 2019. It had been nearly 3 years since our family had made our pilgrimage to see extended family across the prairies. It was incredible to see just show much our kids loved seeing various relatives. they marvelled at all the people they were related to. At 8 and 5, I think they felt like they were meeting many folks for the first time.
The purpose of our trip a this time of year was to attend an important family funeral, but the opportunity to see family was something we all needed after 3 years of staying home.
After two weeks of visits, of recreating missed birthdays, family dinners and just spending time together, our hearts were full of something we had been desperately missing. It almost felt normal at times, being around people we love and have missed so much.
Finally, close to the end of the second week, we began the long drive home.
In the weeks before we set out on this holiday, in the midst of Holy Week and Easter, I did my best to keep up on the pandemic situation. I knew that COVID was spreading widely, but seeing family, particularly because of this family funeral, was important at this point.
In the middle part of the second week, we began feeling some symptoms: Runny noses, coughs, plugged ears. While there were stories of COVID cases all around us, we initially attributed it to seasonal and pet allergies (so many dogs and cats!). But still we took rapid tests, we were always wearing masks in public, and compared to a normal whirlwind family tour, we reduced contacts and limited household visits substantially.
Still, we were feeling pretty crummy as we came home. Before going out into the world once home, we decided to rapid test again.
And after a week of symptoms, our tests finally showed two lines.
We were positive for COVID-19.
The thing that we had been working so hard to avoid for over 2 years had finally made its way into our house all the way from across the country.
We let our family and anyone who visited us know.
For us, it has been very hard to be so far from family during this pandemic. But I also know it may have been one of the things that has kept us safe from infection. If we lived closer to family, I am sure we would have been gathering and visiting when the public health orders allowed. I am sure our contacts would have gone way up.
And looking back it is easy to see why we were infected with COVID-19. In two weeks we were in more homes, and spending more time with people unmasked and close contact than we have in the two years previous. We thought we were careful enough, but every visit was a risk.
It is a reminder of just where this pandemic has hit us hardest. It speaks to why we are all so beaten down and struggling. COVID-19 has robbed us of the most important activities that help us stay healthy and grounded. Gathering together with the family and friends who are most important to us. Two years of FaceTime and Zoom calls every other day was nothing like just once sitting around the dinner table with those that we love.
The pandemic is far from over. We continue to balance finding ways to connect with and be close to those people who are most important to us – family, friends, neighbours or siblings in Christ – with staying safe, preventing illness and disease.
And I cannot help but come to the realization this is our new world. The realities that we are struggling with today are not going anywhere anytime soon, and so we continue to struggle together. We continue to follow God’s call together. We continue to adapt and change and seek out ways to be community, to care for each other and to walk together in faith.
So far COVID-19 has been like a bad head cold for us… and hopefully I will start testing negative soon and be able to re-join our local community not long after that.