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Nowhere to Turn: Trusting Your Neighbors

Jesus said love your neighbors, but did he say we should trust them? Biden and the CDC announced yesterday that vaccinated individuals no longer have to wear masks. Biden said he trusted Americans to do the right thing. I posted on Facebook a link to a Baltimore Sun op-ed saying Americans can’t be trusted to do the right thing, point and case the non-existent gas crisis. The pipeline was shut down for a few days and the same people who bought all the toilet paper rushed to fill every vehicle and gas can they could get their hands on. I don’t know if those images of plastic bags of gas were real, but I do know my husband drove around for an hour looking for gas because he didn’t believe this was really going to happen. I told him to go at 6 AM before work! The point is we don’t live in a world where people love their neighbors.

The photo at the top of this post was taken in June of 2016. It was right after Scarlett got out of the Pediatric ICU after a severe asthma attack. She missed the last week of kindergarten, and she was devastated. She was so fortunate to have fantastic teachers who came and visited her in the hospital. It wasn’t the first time she was in the hospital for asthma, but it was her first trip to the PICU. She’s been admitted every year since. Well that was until this year. In March we had a huge milestone of one year hospital free. This was of course wonderful. A year of not having to make that phone call to the doctor knowing it would result in driving straight to the ER. A year of not having to tell her she’s not going home. A year of not listening to her lie to doctors hoping they would just let her leave the hospital. A year of not sleeping in a hospital bed with my baby, being woken up every 2 hours for obscene amounts of albuterol.

In September her doctor asked me to step out of the room and leave Scarlett with the nurse. She said now we know that she’s illness triggered. That makes Covid-19 much scarier. We’ve followed the science. As we learned more we made adjustments. We ate outdoors at first, then indoors when the whole air conditioning circulation turned out not to be a thing. We made my dad and Pat go to the store at first, making sure to wipe down all the groceries. Then when surface transmission turned out not to be a thing we went to the playground. We went from seeing no one, to outdoor play dates, to playing inside with our closest friends who took all the precautions. But slowly as vaccinations became available the world has gotten more dangerous.

It started with school. Scarlett didn’t go back, but our only indoor playmates did. The doctor said no interactions with school aged children who are in person. Then capacity increases started to happen. Yesterday, at the zoo, we got in line for the carousel only to watch them fill every seat and some with adults standing next to the child, many of whom were unmasked. Scarlett didn’t need to be told she couldn’t get on. She stepped out of line and said it’s time to go. Starting Saturday it will be the end of dining in or outside of restaurants.

I recognize that the governor shouldn't continue to hinder businesses just so Scarlett can get a pretzel at the Ale House. While frustrated, I understood that. But what happened yesterday, I can’t understand. I can’t believe a President who a few weeks before his inauguration watched as Americans stormed the Capitol, say he trusts Americans to do the right thing. At this point vaccines are readily available for everyone over the age of 16. For 12-15 year olds getting an appointment with Pfizer is a lot harder, but all adults have the option to get vaccinated. Yet many choose not to. I am all for civil liberties and forcing medical treatments on Americans is not ok. But as a result of all those who are choosing not to get vaccinated we are nowhere near herd immunity.

I attacked my cousin, who drastically altered his life in 2020 in order to be safe for Scarlett to be around. We celebrated every holiday together, fed penguins together, and hugged, all because they stayed safe for her. He made a comment on the CDC announcement without really thinking through what that really meant for Scarlett. What’s worse is that he made that comment thinking this got us one step closer to going on a trip together to Disney. I apologized badly.

I am frustrated at the prospect of spending another summer stuck at home. If you know me, you know I am a going places kind of person. I go to Target sometimes just to wander around and sip my Starbucks. They took the Starbucks away but you can still wander around Target, off peak hours, safely. But not any more. Now the zoo is gone, the pools will be too crowded, is there anywhere that will be safe to go? With any American who says they were vaccinated unmasked will there be anywhere to turn?

We were never able to have a second child. I remember in 2019 I had a huge milestone. For the first time when one of my friends got pregnant, I wasn’t sad. I was actually glad it wasn’t me. But then 2020 rolled around and Scarlett had no one to play with, I suddenly felt like a failure again for not being able to give her a sibling to play with. Some of her friends have gotten really good about wearing masks around her and she’s had a few play dates where they sat on opposite sides of the couch and played Minecraft. A few weeks ago I nearly cried when my neighbor’s 15 year old played hide and seek with her. Over the winter her 11 year old went sledding with Scarlett in the backyard when she couldn’t go to the big hill with all the other kids. But mostly she’s glued to her phone because it’s the only way she gets social interaction with her peers outside of soccer.

I’m not supposed to blog about Scarlett. What goes on the internet, stays on the internet. I try to limit what I expose of her life because someday she will be old enough to say I didn’t want that out there. These pictures I have used on this post are from 5 years ago, because she doesn’t let me take pictures in the hospital any more. But this isn’t really about her. She’s far stronger than I am. She walked away from that carousel without being told, because this isn’t theoretical for her. She wasn’t upset the day kids went back to school even though she knew she couldn’t. Instead she bounced about and was so excited for them. She cheerfully told one of her closest friends to have the best time ever in Disney next week.

She’s mostly fine. I am not. I am sad, I am scared, and I am angry. I want more for her. In January I wrote about being happier in the new year and stop blaming God for what this pandemic has cost me. Lord knows others have had a harder time then we have. But when I wrote that, I thought it would get better. I didn’t expect the suffering to just keep going. I wish I could trust my neighbors but I sure as hell hope they’ll follow Jesus’s teaching and love us.

P.S. Just so we’re clear I mean our neighbors as a society and not our actual neighbors. Them I trust.

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