Lara Stewart-Panko

Sweet, Sacred Teamwork

As concerns about Covid-19 became murmurs in Canada, I was one of those who at first was skeptical, thinking it was less serious than the flu. Within days I realized how wrong I had been. Here is my family's story:

My husband left to tour the US & Canada (he's in the music industry) a few days before shit got real. We both thought nothing of it. Our son, 17, was soon going to be on March Break and had plans to go with friends to Montreal for a few days. The night before my son's planned departure I made the very unpopular decision he couldn't go. Thank God. He had to go into isolation with me the very next day. Why? I had been exposed to clients who had just returned from a Disney trip the day before.

As the situation became more dire, I started working on getting my husband back to Canada and into isolation in a hotel (which is where he is as I write this). My son's band had been slated to do their first North American tour beginning in April, and we've watched that adventure evaporate. It sucks, and it's ok.

And then there's my work. After my exposure I immediately stopped seeing all clients in person. Classes have been virtual and I'm not permitted in the hospitals to support birth doula clients, so that's now virtual, too. It sucks, and it's ok.

The clients who had travelled that I was exposed to? They are very dear to me. I've been their birth doula with all 3 kids, and their postpartum doula for all 3 as well. Oldest is home from JK, middle is out of daycare and baby is still loving the homefront. Mama is self-employed as a financial advisor, now working long hours from home to help her clients as the economy shudders. And Daddy? He's an ICU doctor. He's on the frontline. In all the years I've known him I've never seen fear in his eyes until now, and we've been through several crises together.

Because I had already been exposed to them for hours prior to us all realizing the problem with that, I've made the decision to "isolate" with them and my son, travelling between the two homes. I'm now working 40+ hours per week to care for the kids, support Mama, cook and clean, and do my best to keep Daddy sane while he's sequestered in the basement. Separate dishes, talking while standing 10 feet apart, other infection control measures. Desperately wanting to hug him, to calm some of the fears and viscerally remind him how loved he is. Eye contact between us all has never been more powerful, and we've birthed together.

As hard as all this is (in our little worlds and in our collective big one), it's a profound truth that beauty and joy are as perennial as the grass. The kids are still laughing (when they're not whining or fighting), the birds are singing, the sun is shining. My son is being heroic spending long days alone...though his chronic health conditions have been good training! And he plays guitar for me when I get home, giving a wonderful display of his talent and resilience. He's even started asking me how my day was, and I'm telling him how proud I am of him for behaving so responsibly in all this.

Please keep your family safe. As an ICU doctor recently said, it's not worth a few hours of fun over drinks or a playdate to potentially cause a horrific death for several people. Be a true team player, even when it's uncomfortable, frustrating, hard. The sooner we get on top of this situation, the sooner we can connect in person again. And our frontline workers deserve that support and respect. They deserve the simple assistance of your social distancing, up to and including isolation, excepting time in Nature. They are putting themselves and their families at risk every day for you and yours. Do your part, express your appreciation, and for the love of Life, participate in sweet, sacred teamwork.

This is a green website. Lara Stewart-Panko has planted
trees so far. Hosted on a renewable energy server.