Social distancing on our walk at Okehocking Preserve in Newtown Square, PA.

I am scared. I am worried. I am anxious. I am fearful. When will this all end? 

I arrived home to Villanova, Pennsylvania three weeks ago to immediately face self-isolation for over two weeks. I had been showing symptoms prior to coming home, and so I knew what was coming. But what I didn’t know was the extent to which it would be like. I was so exhausted from not only the virus but also the constant anxiety that the news and the “unknown” of the illness arose within me. I woke up each morning, fearful of a new symptom. The ability to check my temperature, in a way, made things worse for me. It sparked a new wave of panic that I didn’t know how to control myself: 100.1, 102.1, 98.7, 99.8, 101.5. After thirteen days of having a fever, it started to overwhelm me. What symptom would be next? Could my body fight this? Is my anxiety making me feel worse? But worst of all, was my fear of infecting my mother. I had been in contact with a roommate and a friend who had both tested positive, and therefore, I was pretty confident that I was fighting the virus. However, I was unable to gain access to a test. If I couldn’t, who could? 

My mother is a survivor of a quadruple bypass open-heart surgery. It is just the two of us that live together now, and the idea of her being immunocompromised to the virus terrifies me. It is a miracle that she is alive today, but the inability to save her from this disease is an awful feeling. We have found out that the hospital that her doctors reside in is now unable to take new patients because of too many COVID19 patients. The idea that if she were to show symptoms, she might not be able to receive the help she needs is incomprehensible. If it is just the two of us, how do I protect her? 

My mom and I need each other. We have shown each other over these three weeks what it means to exhibit accompaniment. When I was in self-isolation, she would sit outside my door for hours just talking to me, she would bring me my coffee in the morning, and my meals throughout the day. She was all I had. Now that I am better, we spend our days taking walks and trying to lift each other’s spirits. I have tried to take over any stressors that she has, including grocery and pharmacy errands. Even in these dark times, we have tried to find the light of each day and work to be grateful for what we do have. There is uncertainty with this entire situation, which poses challenges, but we have been trying to tackle our obstacles one day at a time to contain our “big picture” fear and worry.

5 Replies to “Mother Daughter Accompaniment

  1. I’m so sorry to hear that you weren’t feeling well, and I hope that you are over the worst of it. Accompaniment during these times with immunocompromised family members is extremely stressful, and it’s awesome to hear that you and your mom have been able to find ways to communicate and be there for each other while also staying safe. I think the “one day at a time” approach is really insightful of you and can make tackling such a scary time of our lives more bearable. The fear of not knowing how you can protect your family is terrifying, but if we continue to do what we are supposed to do, this too shall pass. Helping your mom out by running errands and doing small chores around the house is something I’m sure she appreciates greatly while also decreasing her risk of contracting the virus. During these times where anxiety can really take over, the first step to being a good accompanier is taking care of yourself!

  2. Thank you for this thoughtful entry. It is so hard to feel as though you might be a carrier, one who can transmit this disease to another who is immunocompromised. It warmed my heart when you said that she used to sit outside your door just talking to you for hours, of practicing social distancing and accompaniment at the same time. I wish you and your mother nothing but health! Thanks for sharing.

  3. I love to hear about how close you are to your mom and how no obstacles will prevent you from connecting with each other. I can relate to you in which I am extremely close with my mom and it is times like these when you truly need your mother’s comfort. I can think of all the times when I don’t feel well and my mom is either by my side or I call her right away. It is in moments of weakness in which we look to our moms, therefore when there is a virus like COVID 19 in which physical contact could harm her, it makes the pain that much worse. I love the idea of you talking through your door because while you couldn’t be physically together, the human connection continues to stay strong. Thank you for sharing this and hope you and your mom are doing well!!

  4. Laura, thank you for sharing your truth. You have to take precautions against spreading COVID-19 as you did during your first few weeks at home. As much as it was heartbreaking to not be able to be in close contact with your mother, you did the right thing.

    Reading this again, I could not help but think about a post I saw recently about a police officer in Puerto Rico. Given that he is exposed to the virus daily, he could not be in contact with his daughter, whom he left with her grandparents. Not only do law enforcement officials do this, but health care practitioners, and other essential workers. This is a reality that many individuals are facing and it is, as you emphasized, frightening. I cannot imagine the anxiety that you experienced during self-isolation. Furthermore, I cannot fathom the agony families who are being separated during this pandemic are bearing.

    There is so much uncertainty, but as your story highlights, we need to engage in accompaniment as much as we can, not letting distance become a barrier. It was heartwarming knowing that you and your mother found ways to enact accompaniment during the time you were in self-isolation. You both made the best out of the situation you were in, and that is both empowering and uplifting. Something I would leave you with, that Professor Loe had told me recently, is that as much as we yearn for guidance and certainty, it is important to embrace uncertainty. This uncertainty we are all experiencing has taught me many things such as the importance of accompaniment and self-care.

    Your story also highlights, briefly, issues of accessibility to essential resources and it is important to engage in dialogue about this highlighting how race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, ability status (social location en masse) affects an individual’s ability to access essential resources.

    Please continue to stay safe and well. I am thinking of both you and your mother during this time.

  5. Laura – thank you so much for your vulnerability. I remember experiencing similar fears this time last year surrounding my mother who is also immunocompromised. Every day of the pandemic, my mind spiraled around the safety of my mom, not knowing what would happen to her, how helpless I was in the face of COVID, and knowing that my world and hers could crumble at any given moment. This post encouraged me to reflect on the ways in which my mom and I accompanied each other throughout the pandemic. Remembering how we walked our dog together every day, cooked together, did puzzles… best of all, we were able to simply sit in the glory of each others company. Being back at school, I miss being able to accompany each other throughout our day to day lives but at the same time, I feel very connected to her through our shared experience. I hope you and your mother are doing well and staying connected wherever you are in the world. <3

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