We bought plane tickets to go to Utah for Christmas back in March, just as COVID was beginning to make its mark in the US.
As things escalated and travel restrictions and restrictions on gatherings cropped up more and more, I wondered if we were going to be able to make the trip.
When our flight was changed, we discussed seriously whether or not we ought to go.
We talked about various family members' health and comfort level with seeing us during the pandemic and brainstormed ways we could accommodate the needs of everyone while prioritizing health and safety.
We finally concluded that, if I was able to move our flight up a few days, we rearranged the order in which we would be seeing family groups, we were vigilant about staying home during the week before our trip, and we got COVID tests before coming, we could do so with assurance that we would not be bringing sickness to anyone.
I learned that our county offers COVID tests to anyone, for any reason, for free, so I gratefully scheduled tests for all of us except Elsie in a drive-thru setting. I was mildly concerned about the cold symptoms our youngest three had, but they mainly just had congestion and I knew that wasn't the primary mark of COVID, so I was relatively unworried.
But the cases in Memphis skyrocketed the week before we were to leave. Tennessee was the #1 state in the US for COVID rate, and Shelby County (where we live) was the #1 county in Tennessee.
There were over 11,000 positive cases in one day in mid-December in Tennessee (compared to about 3,000 cases at its peak in the summer).
And then we got word that there had been another case in Lincoln's class.
We got our tests early Thursday morning, and Lincoln reported that kids had gone home sick all that day and his teacher had been out for the past few days.
They told us we would receive our test results within 24 hours, so we anxiously awaited our test results on Friday morning. We got an email stating that Lincoln had tested positive, and suddenly everything changed.
Lincoln had complained of a headache off and on for a few days at the beginning of the week, but we didn't think much of it. He hadn't had any other symptoms of sickness, and his headache was completely gone at the time of the test.
Sam left immediately to go pick up Lincoln, Wesley, and Talmage, who were all at school.
And I started making phone calls, spending much of the day changing travel plans, cancelling reservations, informing the school, and changing plans for our involvement in the church Christmas program that Sunday.
When the kids got home and we told them the news, Lincoln was quite scared.
After hearing so much about COVID all year, it was a bit alarming for him to hear that he had it.
Sam sat him down and explained the scientific reason it didn't affect children very badly and drew a diagram for him. When Lincoln was still scared in spite of our reassurances that this was very likely not a big deal, Sam asked if he wanted a priesthood blessing.
Lincoln definitely did, so Sam gave him a blessing and after that he was totally happy and unconcerned.
The other boys' disappointment about our cancelled trip to Utah was delayed a bit due to their surprise at hearing that Lincoln had COVID. But after the dust settled, they were pretty devastated.
I just couldn't handle it when I found Talmage shut away in a room by himself, reading his scriptures to try to find comfort.
We were pretty sad for the remainder of that day and I let the boys watch Christmas movies and overload on sugary Christmas treats as a diversion,
which only partially soothed their pain.
I did what I typically do in the face of disappointment...
moped for a day, shed a few tears, ate some treats,
and then woke up the next morning with a determination to make the best of things.
I squared my shoulders, set my jaw, and started making plans for an unforgettable Christmas break filled to the bursting with happy experiences and memories.
(To be continued)