Looking out at a metal awning, I sit with my view from this hotel room in North Carolina. Do I stay or do I go?
Three years ago, my older son, who was immune naïve and compromised, got a probable viral pneumonia which progressed much like we know coronavirus does into a heightened inflammatory response. He was intubated on day five and died on day sixteen. I know what this looks like.
My younger son has been deployed to Afghanistan for nine months. He was due back to North Carolina yesterday.
The first choice was easy. Take the risk and be there to hug him home. Be smart. Sit close to the front of the plane, board late, window seat, wipe things down. After all, I am “high risk” due to my age and my hypertension.
I arrived on Wednesday, took care of some details with his car on Thursday and spent time with his girlfriend and the Afghan puppy he adopted and flew to the U.S. His unit’s flights keep getting cancelled. It’s Saturday now.
In these three days, restrictions and cases are increasing. We still have no flight confirmation for his unit. Now we know that, on landing, we can’t greet him. Instead the whole unit will go into mandatory quarantine for two weeks. And, I ask, if they can test the NBA players, why can’t they test these men and women who have been putting their lives on the line every day for nine months?
And, just now, we hear that the Pentagon is forbidding any domestic travel for armed service personnel. That means his three-week leave won’t happen. He was planning to visit national parks with his girlfriend, puppy and new camera. Instead, he’s stuck in Kuwait, can’t see us on arrival and can’t have his vacation.
Sitting here, looking out at a dismal metal awning over the entrance of my hotel, I think about my options. Do I stay or do I go? I want to be standing outside the barracks with other family members, horns and signs, showing support and love. And each day I stay, I increase risks to both my health and my ability to get home. Do I stay or do I go?