The most difficult part of having a family member working in health care during these times is the inability to see them.
My mother, Trinidad Bolanos, has been a nurse for decades since moving to America in the early 1990s. She has been working as a nurse in dialysis for the past few years and has been happy with the routine she’s developed there.
Yet the routine changed in mid-March, when the dialysis health care center where my mom was employed began treating coronavirus (COVID-19) patients. Due to the possible health risks, my younger brother and I decided we should live somewhere else until it was safe to come home.
We have not seen our mother in person in nearly two months. My brother and I are living over an hour away from home with our sister and brother-in-law. There is only one guest bedroom that we take turns sleeping in, so I am sleeping on the living room couch four nights a week.
However, my concerns aren’t with my temporary living arrangements, but with my mother. I often wonder how tending to patients of a virus that has claimed so many lives is affecting her and if it will take a toll on her in any way.
My mother has been a positive person her entire life. Growing up, my siblings and I sought her out whenever we were upset. Her optimism would instantly ease our stresses.
My mother’s attitude hasn’t wavered. On her first day of caring for COVID-19 patients, she sent us a picture of her in her protective medical gear, posing and signaling peace signs. I couldn’t see most of her face behind her medical mask, but I could tell there was a smile underneath.
She video chats with us nearly every day. She tells us funny stories involving her coworkers, how close she is to finishing another puzzle and how she’s been catching up on her soap operas.
On these video calls, she tells us how much she misses us and how empty our apartment is now. She sometimes sits in the quiet bedroom that my brother and I shared not too long ago.
The longer hours she’s scheduled for, at her now much more dangerous job, has not affected her positivity, but what has affected her is the separation from her children.
I have also been affected by this. Suddenly I’ve been relocated to an unfamiliar location and I can only see my mother through a phone screen. I don’t know when I’ll be able to see her again.
This makes it more frustrating to see people ignoring the advice of health organizations in regard to social distancing and only leaving home when absolutely necessary. While some people continue to go out, my mother is working tirelessly to combat a pandemic everyone should be taking just as seriously.
When people continue to protest for their freedom to go outside, they are robbing me and my siblings of the opportunity to see our mother. Doubting the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic is an insult to the countless healthcare workers around the world who cannot see their families.
I worry for her safety every day, but she assures me that I’ll be able to come home soon. We talk about what restaurant we’re going out to first and where her and my sister are thinking about going on a family road trip to.
My mother is the strongest person I know. She works hard, sacrifices so much for others and does it with a smile on her face. I know she’ll be alright and sooner or later, I’ll see her smile in person again.
In high school, a teacher asked me who my hero was. I said my mother. He asked me why and without hesitation I said, “Because she’s never let me down.”
Hang in there, Mom. I’m so proud of everything you’ve done. You’re courageous, selfless and the most loving person I know. I can’t wait to come home and see you every day like I used to. Keep fighting. I love you.