Together and Apart

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Together and Apart

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Flagstaff AZ. My husband was an occupational therapist who regularly worked in the ICU at Flagstaff Medical Center. I remember the week after the lockdown started (March 15th or so) the Covid-19 numbers were doubling every week at FMC. My husband started changing out of his scrubs and shoes in the garage. I was a speech therapist with the school district and we were all asked to stay home, which was good because I have two school-aged children. As the Covid numbers started to skyrocket in our region due to a devastating outbreak on the Navajo nation, my husband became more and more worried about bringing the virus home since there was a shortage of PPE. When it was announced that my own job would go remote and I would need to start scheduling teletherapy sessions with my students, we decided it would be better for me and the kids to go live with my mom and dad in Tempe for a few weeks. My mom is a retired teacher and offered to teach my kids while I worked with my students online. The kids loved having grandma be their teacher. I had to learn how to work with preschoolers with disabilities over Zoom, which is no easy task! Meanwhile, my husband was providing us updates; when he finally got fitted for a tyvek suit was a happy day because he could spend all day in it helping patients. The doctors were trying new therapies with patients every week, but mostly he saw many people seem to get better and then take unexpected deadly turns. Treating isolated, scared patients while feeling helpless to know what to do was taking a toll on everyone at the hospital. The kids and I spent 7 weeks with my mom, face-timing him every night. Finally, as the school-year came to a close, we were able to reunite. I captured the moment we got home and my husband hugged my 5 year old son. We were so lucky; no one in the family had gotten sick so far despite my husband being in close proximity to patients each day. Over the summer and into the next school year we were hoping for some normalcy to return but it was nothing but adapting to change. The kids made friends with the neighbors down the street not by playing in the front yard, but by yelling greetings over the fence. When they started school in the fall we organized a "pod" with other families whose children were in the same classes as ours at DeMiguel elementary. We had four kindergarteners and three 2nd graders all doing school over Zoom at the same time, which was not easy for the parents who had to oversee them (my husband had the honor at least once a week), but the kids really benefitted from having friends to play with during breaks. We saw them become more motivated to participate and happier overall. I started seeing some students in-person for the first time at the school on a very limited basis. I wore clear PPE products so my students could see my mouth. The kids didn't go back to in-person school until about a year after the lockdown (Spring 2021). As the school year ended, the wildest school year of our lives, things did start to seem normal again, but we ended up leaving Flagstaff for Tucson due to soaring high home prices and my husband needing a fresh start away from the memories of the early pandemic.

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This item was submitted on May 7, 2022 by Emily Sakievich using the form “Share Your Story” on the site “A Journal of the Plague Year”:

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