two silhouettes sitting in the sunset

COVID-19: Restoring Public Trust During A Global Health Crisis

February 22, 2021 | Dr. Henry L. Ealy

‘This Is Not Okay’ – A COVID Story

Last year, the fear of God was put in my 80-year-old mother’s mind.

She was babysitting for my brother and had a routine doctor’s visit during which she was told that she needs to stop babysitting immediately. “I don’t think you understand. If you get this virus, you die,” said her doctor. My mother called me crying, and I was so disheartened and angry.

My parents immediately removed themselves from our lives, stopped regular visits, and have since done only outdoor visits from a distance. Back in March 2020, my oldest brother in Brooklyn told me, “I’ll see you in 2021!” My kids were baffled, and all of us were devastated that he told us he’d see us so many months from now. It seemed so far away and yet he stood by his word!

My entire family has been separated for a year—no 80th birthday celebration for my mother, no Hanukkah or family meals, no graduations, dozens of missed grandkids’ birthdays … everything!

I’ve sent my mom literature about protecting herself by supporting her immune system and about the stats suggesting a very high success rate for surviving COVID and thought she might be listening.

So, when my 11-year-old daughter whispered in my ear, “Mom, do you think it would be okay if I put a mask on and sanitize my hands and ask grandma if I could give her a hug at the waist?” I replied, “Yes, ask her.”

Worried about the reply, she asked me to do it.

So, standing in my mother’s garage in the freezing cold for our visit, and still standing 6 feet away, I asked my mom, “Elliana wants to know whether or not she can hug you at the waist with a mask on and sanitized hands?”

My mother replied, “Elliana, I’m so sorry; maybe this thing will be done by March when it’s your birthday.” My daughter turned away devastated; but always a pleaser, she didn’t want my mom to see how upset she truly was. She buried her head in my armpit to hide her face and leaned into me.

I think we were both so shocked. And, as my mom tried to talk to her in a lighthearted manner to make it better, my daughter was quickly overwhelmed with emotion, devastated by the rejection of her request to hug her grandmother.

In that moment, it became crystal clear that what is going on is not okay.

My daughter was speechless, and while she was trying not to hurt her grandma’s feelings, she also could not bring herself to tell her grandma that, “it’s ok.”

Never in my life have I witnessed a child being turned away by a loving, selfless grandmother who lives for her grandchildren. This was THE moment that it became even more apparent all the pain and hurt that this pandemic has truly inflicted upon us all.