One of the more difficult aspects of the shelter-in-place precautions of the coronavirus pandemic is that many families who live close to one another but in separate households technically still shouldn’t mingle. That’s a lot of habit-forming to go against, and not being able to hug or hang out with your close family members as you used to is hard on everyone involved.
That distance becomes even more necessary when one of those family members is a nurse and the others are immunocompromised.
Kelsey Kerr is a nurse in Cincinnati, Ohio, at Christ Hospital, and her parents — who live just 15 minutes away — have pre-existing conditions. They’ve gotten somewhat used to the necessity of keeping their distance, but it hasn’t been easy.
Kerr stopped by to pick up some prayer shawls for critically ill patients from her mother, Cheryl Norton, when the urge for Norton to hug her daughter overwhelmed her. This time, she spotted something that would make her feel better about the contact.
Norton figured a clean sheet sitting nearby could function as a barrier.
“I can put this over her,” she thought, as she later recounted to The Cincinnati Enquirer.
So Norton approached Kerr, who was wearing a mask, and threw the sheet over her before wrapping her in a big embrace.
“I just want to know she’s OK so when I got that one opportunity to see her, I just had to throw that sheet over her,” the mom told ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “I thought I want to hug her and if she has a sheet around her maybe I can do it.”
Whether the sheet really helped in the way she wanted it to, the hug was good for the mother and daughter’s hearts.
“It felt like my heart went, ahhh,” Norton said. “It felt so good to hold her for a second.”
“The thing that was interesting about the photograph is you could see how tight she was holding me. It was like she was home again. She was safe in my arms. For that moment, for that split second, she was safe.”
“I did it for me,” Norton continued. “But that was kind of selfish. I did it for her also because I didn’t want her to feel like she was contaminated.”
“I see on social media that all these health care workers are feeling very isolated and I didn’t want that to happen her,” she told GMA.
Norton also said that after the hug she thoroughly washed her hands, and she left the sheet in the garage for a few days before washing it.
Kerr said the hug was lovely and explained that she probably won’t get the opportunity again for quite some time.
“It was so nice,” Kerr said. “We’ve always been big huggers and it’s been pretty unusual to do these drop-offs and not get out of the car and be able to hug her.”
“I probably won’t hug her for a couple months, even if I do get to see her, which I probably won’t.”
Kerr, who is an ICU nurse, is now quarantining at home with her husband, but she has high hopes for the future.
“There’s so much difficulty right now but we’re going to make it through it and we’re all going to be together in the end,” she said. “It’s just a matter of getting there.”
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