COVID Crisis, Oceans Apart
It’s not every birthday that a life dream comes true, but on February 6, 2019 my daughter, Elaine, got hers. Turning 26 was topped by an acceptance email from the University of Glasgow, Scotland, to obtain her master’s degree in art history. We were over the moon for her. Thirteen months later, we would live online, desperately watching from another continent as she fought a disease named COVID-19.
February of 2020 appeared to be as spectacular as 2019 had been. Elaine’s older sister, Clarissa, traveled to Scotland to celebrate Elaine’s birthday and Valentine’s Day. They took Scotland and London by storm, eating Scottish food, visiting Harry Potter hot spots, wandering castles and museums. Completely fantastic, aside from the text messages urging travelers to avoid taking the underground due to the “Novel Coronavirus.” Ten days later when Clarissa arrived back in the States, the virus was turning to a pandemic.
On March 24, 2020, Governor Jay Inslee called for a statewide lockdown, making Washington the first state to do so. No one had ever heard of such a thing, let alone lived in one. Worksites and schools were closing. The world was tipping.
Eight times zones away, in Glasgow, the story was dire. Students by the droves were locking their flat doors, abandoning possessions, and taking any available flight out. We were in the process of arranging this for Elaine, when she called early one morning.
Four days after Washington locked down, my husband woke me. “Family meeting right now. Elaine.” Due to the time difference, her day is almost over by the time we wake up. Stumbling into my husband’s office, wrapped in a bathrobe, I met a sight I hadn’t expected. All five of our faces staring at each other. Thank you, Zoom. In the upper left corner of my computer screen, in a darkened square, sat my intrepid 27-year-old daughter, whispering from her bed in Scotland, “I haven’t been able to breathe for two days. It’s getting worse.”
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