Newsflash: The pandemic isn’t over. Don’t let your guard down.
My mother is lying prone in a bed in the intensive care unit at Scripps Mercy Hospital in Chula Vista, California.
Within 12 hours of going on a ventilator, she had a stroke, and though her doctor cannot determine precisely how it has affected Mom, she expects her to need 24/7 nursing care for the rest of her life.
If she survives.
And if she survives, according to her doctor, she’ll be the first Covid patient with comorbidity and over the age of 75 to come off of a ventilator and leave that hospital since the start of the pandemic.
Mom and her third husband, Randy, have been married for 25 years and together for 30. Last summer, we had a big party in Michigan to celebrate their silver anniversary. Surrounded by family and friends who had traveled from destinations as distant as California and New England, Mom reveled in the celebration of their marriage held at her beloved, restored, small-town Victorian home.
Because she was undergoing cancer treatments, she was masked at all times, except for pictures.
Two years ago, Mom and Randy bought a beach house in Baja California in which to spend winters. Just a day’s drive from where my brother and I live near Los Angeles, the house overlooks the Pacific from its perch on a hill, and Mom loves tending her plants, walking her dog Dino, and watching the sunsets. They quickly formed close friendships within their small ex-pat community, and they planned to sell the Victorian and their small business in the summer of 2022, fully retire, and move from Michigan to Mexico for good.
The weekend of March 5–6, their tight-knit coastal community gathered for a party in a nearby restaurant. Mom was the only person wearing a mask, but halfway through the evening, she removed it. “I let my guard down,” she told me when she called on March 9 to tell me she’d tested positive for Covid.
Mom had beaten cancer three times, most recently lymphoma, for which her treatments ended before they departed Michigan for Mexico last November. She’d also been double-vaxxed and boosted. However, the chemo had compromised her immune system, so she knew she had to be very careful throughout the pandemic. Even…