April 2, 2021 positive test…
Natalie held her phone and stared at the message: “Automated message from the BC Centre for Disease Control, Covid19 test result for Natalie D is POSITIVE. You and those you live with need to self-isolate now. You will be contacted shortly for contact tracing.” She sat there numb; shock, fear, and anger took turns coursing through her body and her mind. How could she be positive?
Sure, she went to the restaurant but everyone there was safe. Or so she thought.
Was it at the restaurant she got it? Or was it somewhere else? Her body pulsed with anxious waves. Her palms felt damp and she could feel every beat of her heart. It raged inside her and at times she thought it might burst from her chest.
She was sure she only had a cold, until it wasn’t.
She paced the floor of her home, the phone in her hand. She needed to call her husband and let him know that she was positive. They hadn’t seen each other all week and she hoped he was spared the same exposure to the virus. What could she say? He was on the mountain having fun; she hated to spoil it for him. Not like everything wasn’t spoiled for her. Did that include her health?
“Hello?” the sound of his voice woke her from her thoughts. She looked down at her phone, when did she press send?
“Hi hon, I have some news for you.” She breathed deep.
“It’s not good news is it?” He sounded distant.
“I’m positive.” The words tumbled out in a rush; it was a release and an admission. How?
“Oh, honey! Fuck! Oh babe that sucks.” His voice cleared up for a moment. She could feel his anguish across the digital distance.
Why, why, why??? Questions without answers raged inside. A cough wracked her chest and she sat down weakened from the stress of it all. Who gave it to her? Who did she give it to? She felt relieved she hadn’t seen her aged parents in a while; long before she started to feel symptoms. Her mind raced again… Who had she seen? Basically, she had been alone since her man left for a few days. She was the one sick. Where, who, why? Again her brain spun out of control.
It was time to focus on getting better. The nurse said someone would call her regarding contact tracing, but on a long weekend how long would that take?
She decided to keep herself busy and move her stuff out of the house. There was a studio suite in the garage and she needed to get it prepared. Her family was coming home and she would have to stay away.
Her hubby and his daughter came home in the afternoon. They got tested on their way back home from the mountain… just in case. Fifteen minutes of close contact is what the nurse had told her. When had they last had close contact? She looked into his eyes and a flicker of fear met her gaze. Was he scared of her? She was terrified, so he must be too.
They didn’t dare get too close… How she longed for a hug, snuggle, or a simple human touch. She understood how hard it must have been for all those seniors living alone in care homes. Their loved ones could only stand at the window; it was a glass barrier that may as well have been a million miles wide. The sense of touch was not there, it was hollow. She yearned to touch him, to feel his arms envelop her.
She couldn’t do anything but sit and wonder. Her emotions mixed, she was thinking how long it had been since he had held her tight. She felt relief knowing that his daughter hadn’t been with her for almost two weeks.
She had an ache inside. Lost, she wanted connection more than ever.
And it wasn’t there.
Echoes of loneliness rattled through her being. He was right there in front of her. Yet he wasn’t there, she could sense his energy flowing away.
“I want to hold you, to hug you, to make you feel alright.” His words bounced through her brain. Natalie knew he meant it, she could feel his anguish. She wondered if he could feel hers.
Fear of the disease was worse than the illness itself. For her, so far, covid wasn’t bad. She was grateful for that. She’d been through colds much worse than this. This is what had shut down the world? It certainly shut down some peoples’ worlds.
Now they both needed to isolate. Her man would have a harder time isolating than she did. He was the social butterfly, the one who needed human contact. Now they would have to keep apart, forced to stay at home. They would be within spitting distance of each other at a time when the most important thing was to not exchange moisture.
It was going to be a long week. He would be right there and still out of reach. She hoped they could connect at a distance and be stronger. She couldn’t wait for the day they could hold each other once more.
Sleep escaped her and she lay in the bed staring at the ceiling. She tried to read but kept reading the same page over again, the words wouldn’t register.
The virus was infecting more than her body. It infected her mind as well. For her, it felt like a very mild cold, but a cold some people die from. Others have long-term lung issues. Her man has lung issues… she hoped he could stay safe. She sensed the fear in him even from a distance and knew he was facing his own anxieties.
She accepted her fate and was grateful for the little bedroom in the garage. The yard was large and the sun was shining bright. Agonizing minutes paced by and she looked at the back door of the house. At that moment he grabbed open the door and stepped outside. They saw each other and he smiled.
“Negative babe! The kid and I are clear.” He pumped his fist in celebration. “How I wish I could grab you and hug you.”
“That’s great, I’m relieved.” She was relieved too, happy he didn’t give it to her. How did she get this stupid infection? It was good that her family was clear.
The journey felt like it was only beginning and she hoped it wouldn’t be too hard on her.
She settled back into her space, her world reduced to a fraction of what it was a mere few days before. She felt better. With any luck, this was a mild case and she could resume her life in short order. Natalie never expected to contract the virus that shut down the world. She hoped to be there to the end of the pandemic and come out stronger for it. She hoped they would both come out of this stronger.