NEW JERSEY, USA — The pandemic has forced many of us into social isolation, especially those living in coronavirus hot zones. Not certain if they unknowingly carry the virus, some have chosen not to visit their older relatives during this uncertain time.
But as many grapple with fear and anxiety, family is also what people need the most.
Ashley Hutchinson-James, a mother who lives in New Jersey, decided to take things into her own hands. After five weeks of separation, she took her 18-month-old son Avery to see her parents. With social distancing in mind, they interacted through a glass door.
When Avery saw his grandparents, his face lit up. As they happily waved and gazed at their grandchild, Avery cheerfully bounced on the front porch, overflowing with joy.
"Not being able to spend time with the people you love is hard. I hate that Avery and my parents needed a physical barrier (the screen door) to interact with one another but I'm glad they had this moment," Ashley wrote in an Instagram post.
There was a heartbreaking reason why Ashley wanted to take Avery to see her parents: Her uncle had contracted the coronavirus and was fighting for his life.
"I took Avery to see my parents because my mom was having a hard time coping with my uncle (her brother) being on a ventilator due to Covid complications and I knew seeing Avery in person would cheer her up," Ashley said.
Unfortunately, Ashley's uncle eventually passed away after battling Covid-19 for three weeks.
Ashley said her uncle's passing had been tough and emotionally draining on her family, which is why they call and encourage each other as often as possible. And the surprise visit by their grandson provided some much-needed comfort for Ashley's parents.
"After we left, my parents called me individually to tell them how much seeing us all meant to them," Ashley said.
"It's hard not to be able to hug our loved ones especially while grieving. I'm grateful that we can still see each other, whether it's through the barrier of the screen door, standing 6 feet apart, or video chatting."