Day in and day out, Abbie Adair Reinhard retreated from her home office around dinner time, with her dad Sudden COVID-19 Death is still fresh in her mind. She keeps up her flooring business, worries about her mother’s health, and has little time for her three young children.
She said, “I would go out to see my children and think, ‘Oh, good, at least they’re all still alive.’ And that’s horrible to admit.”
Reinhard’s father, who died in April, was among the The first Americans To die than at that time New sweeping virus Nation. Donald Adair, 76, went to the hospital after falling and contracting the virus from his hospital bed.
For agonizing hours, Reinhard, 42, and her three siblings listened to their difficulty breathing during Slowly weakened and died, One of about 1,500 Americans who died on April 6.
The number of daily deaths from infection is now nearly double that, and nearly 500,000 have now died, many of them alone in hospital beds after struggling and stressful phone calls with family members.
Ten months after her father’s death, Reinhard and her family in Rochester, New York, are still struggling with their loss – and the loss of the community that she once thought she could count on. While most people raise her family, there are still some who unleash stabbing pain as they ask, “How old was he? Was he suffering from underlying health conditions?”
Every question feels like an insult.
“It’s like, why is that even important?” Reinhard said, anger escalated in her voice. “Does that make it acceptable that he died? He died. He should not be dead.”
Across the country, the virus has reshaped everyday life, from low-wage workers forced to stay at work so they can feed their families and maintain their health care, to middle-class families who have suddenly had to go to school at home. Children, cancel holidays and skip Thanksgiving dinner with loved ones.
Tens of millions of families face eviction, and up to 10 million remain unemployed as restaurants advance, barbershops operate under severe restrictions, small businesses remain closed, and many are permanently. The virus has struck poor and marginalized communities even more: Coronavirus deaths for people of color are 1.2 to 3.6 times higher than for white Americans.
Like most families, Reinhard struggled through school closures and mask mandates, every day balancing personal safety with some semblance of normality. Children return to virtual school in early September under the supervision of a daily babysitter, and Reinhard’s mother, who is a retired teacher, comes twice a week to help out with their homework.
Routine helps. But very little is normal.
Worry. Nightmares. The lasting scent of the hand sanitizer. Her toenails were pinched to the side of her thumb. Rush past the exposed at the dentist’s office. Five extra pounds of all extra sweets.
She said even the smiling family photos posted on Facebook were misleading.
“I feel like I’ve gone through the process of recovering from a wound that keeps tearing again,” she said. “Being okay with not being well was a big step for me. I know I’m not my best.”
To compound her suffering, her children lose a normal childhood. Day in and day out, they’re sitting at home with little outside interaction, and their isolation is the price her family pays to help slow the spread of the pandemic. Reinhard admits that many Americans have chosen to ignore public health recommendations, which means they lead more normal lives.
She said doing the right thing hurts.
Reinhard said, “Baby, one day, she said,” I don’t have a best friend. I don’t have friends. ”“ They haven’t played with other kids since March. I know other families have done this, but we chose not to. This is a big problem. A year in a young child’s life is eternity. “
The Days follow a very familiar pattern: Children study online while Reinhard from her home office runs her own flooring company, which has expanded to provide virus disinfection services at the facility. Reinhard ditched her corporate headquarters office so that the workers who had to go had a safe place to sit.
She writes and occasionally writes, including a pre-election poem about the power of voting. She textes her siblings, all of whom are still amazed at their father’s death. In a rare treat, she and her husband, Josh, celebrated their tenth wedding anniversary in August by renewing their vows and having dinner alone on an outdoor patio.
A few years before his death, Reinhard and her father were not as close as she would have liked. I worked to fix that in the months before his unexpected death. She is grateful every day for this effort.
“If I don’t do that, I will live with more pain and regret now that I’m gone,” she said. “I have been recently working to forgive myself and others every opportunity I had. I was angry at those who didn’t take COVID seriously, and I was angry with myself for my anxiety. When I can forgive, it frees up space inside of me.”
Reinhard knows her family has better than many. They have a roof over their heads, and their work passes by. They can afford to put food on the table, and even be able to celebrate the holidays by pretending they’ve traveled to Las Vegas, fake horizon set and photoshoot.
“From a tactical perspective, I don’t go out much. The real deep feeling that my other parents might lose them increases our need for caution,” she said. “I appreciate the little things more now, too. It’s cliché but it’s real, and it’s important that I continue to do so after COVID.”
This is why her encounters with COVID deniers still keep her from getting cold. Even after all the deaths, hospitalization, the trauma of seeing family members and loved ones, people still act as if the virus was some kind of trick or political maneuver. Her brother, Tom, even posted their father’s death certificate on Facebook explaining the cause of his death: respiratory failure caused by COVID-19.
“I am not advocating living in fear, but I am in favor of caring for others,” Reinhard said. “To have people in my life, who know what we’ve been through, and not take it seriously? For a lot of others, it wasn’t until they lost a real person, and if they didn’t lose anyone, well, still be.”
Reinhard’s mother was vaccinated in early February, raising her hopes that the country’s doctors and scientists are turning the tide. She’s not sure when life will return to normal in Rochester, but she hopes things will be safer by fall, when her children will return to personal classes.
She’s been thinking a lot about how the pandemic has revealed some uncomfortable truths about the way we are living our lives. For her part, she is grateful for the opportunity to get close to the family, but wonders what long-term effects it will have on societies after bitter disputes over safety and the wearing of masks.
“I think the core of our nation’s identity is the idea of cruel individualism. It worked well for us for two centuries. But now we are all very connected – what’s good for the group is also good for the individual,” she said. “For us, keeping you safe is keeping Grammy safe.”