First Day Home From School, Thursday
The virus Covid-19 has turned our family life upside down, in more ways than one. Plans cancelled, illness, work surges. We live just north of Seattle, not far from Kirkland where the first cases in Washington state appeared. Our governor has closed all schools until April 27th so we are home as a five-person family with not much to do but so much to worry about. I’ve been distracted by the virus’s rapid spread, its related news, and caring for my family so I’ve decided to keep a Covid-19 diary that covers the obstacles we’ve encountered and how we’re dealing with them. As you know, it’s a crazy time!
A Special Trip Planned for My Kids
The corona virus first hammered our family last Tuesday. Not through illness, thank goodness, but through a travel cancellation, an enormous one. Our son and daughter were scheduled to travel from Seattle to Dublin on Thursday. The school marching band was to march in not only Dublin’s huge St. Patrick’s Day Parade but several others in Limerick and smaller cities. They would perform in multiple venues. They’d compete in competitions. They’d tour and sightsee Ireland and Northern Ireland. They would experience another culture half-way around the world and in general have a blast.
During the winter, our kids practiced the line up of songs at home religiously. My seventeen-year-old son plays trumpet, my fifteen-year-old daughter, saxophone. In the band, they’d practiced their formations in the rain and cold and dark for almost three hours every Monday night. They’d prepared their uniforms and met all of the requirements. Meanwhile, their dad and I paid fee after fee, knowing this tri-yearly perk of being a “Highlander,” was well worth it.
As February progressed, the band trip solidified. The kids got their itineraries. They learned where they’d sightsee. They dreamed of ancient cities and mossy landscapes and friendly Irish people. Room assignments were handed out. It was happening! The directors shipped the uniforms, which are noble looking Scottish highlander uniforms complete with kilts. They shipped their instruments, including bagpipes, flags, etc. One of the assistant band directors even left early to retrieve the cargo. No one could wait for those planes to take off.
Meanwhile, the corona virus was circulating in Seattle. But in small numbers — or so we thought. Then, the first community case was announced. That was okay, it didn’t really affect our community. Then the Kirkland nursing home outbreak happened. The trip looked iffy but still likely. I, as well as other parents, wrote the school superintendent, voicing we were ready to take the necessary risks. There were meetings. A lot of wait-and-see. And the band directors, who’d worked for years to make it all happen, were reluctant to cancel. Everyone was ready to wear masks and travel with bleach if they had to to get to Dublin.
As the outbreak spread, more and more people got sick. Cases popped up in Ireland. Then the Irish government cancelled the St. Patrick’s Day parade. Still optimistic, the band directors thought perhaps the kids could simply perform in their other scheduled venues. But then the Irish government cancelled all parades in Ireland. And so, the final sad reality was with no parades to march in, the entire trip was scrapped. I felt gut punched.
Not long after I heard the announcement, I went to my daughter’s room. She’d been feeling under the weather and had stayed home from school. I opened the door to a red-faced sobbing girl who’d heard the news from her boyfriend. The Ireland trip was off. And worse, it probably wouldn’t happen next year.
Welcome to a Different Way of Life
That night, we ate dinner with two morose teenagers. My son had said that at the band meeting, the directors choked up as they announced the cancellation. A devastating blow for everyone. 175 teens had worked their butts off to show the world what a kick ass marching band they were. Now, with football season long gone, they had nowhere to perform and no reason to even play again.
After dinner, the kids went to their rooms, processing with friends by text and facetime. My husband and I wondered if we’d ever see the money we’d dedicated to not one but two children going. It could be a small financial disaster for us. Time would tell.
But the next couple of days only brought us another, more concerning effect from the outbreak: my daughter’s illness. I’ll cover that unexpected turn of events in my next post.
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