10.18.2014

On Ebola

It seems like most people are either panicked about Ebola, or irritated by the people who are panicked about Ebola.

I am concerned, and I am sad. 

I am something else, too - something I'm not sure I have the word to describe. Shaken, I guess. Shaken that I have not one but two personal connections to the US cases. 

Three Kent State University employees are in quarantine, since they are family members who were in contact with the nurse who had contracted it while caring for Thomas Eric Duncan in Texas. Since I'm a KSU alum, I've been getting the updates from the university regarding the situation. It sounds like they are handling it well.

And then Rev. George Mason, the pastor of the grieving and quarantined fiancé of the late Mr. Duncan, was an early ministry mentor for me. We were connected through the Fund for Theological Education.

It startles me that I have two personal connections to this crisis, which had seemed so remote. The degrees of separation fall away.

But those two personal connections are mere coincidence. The connection that is cutting a bit deeper is less personal than universal. As with any tragedy, I can't help but process the Ebola epidemic through the eyes of a mother.

And that's why I found myself suddenly overcome this morning while I sat with my family in the coffee shop at Mariano's, listening to live polka music that was part of the Octoberfest we discovered in full swing when we stopped by for some post-soccer hot chocolate. 

I was thinking about this article I read, about how eleven of twelve nurses died of Ebola after they cared for a baby who had it (despite having tested negative for the virus). 

"They couldn't just watch a baby sitting alone in a box."

And I was thinking about how not long ago I wrote that a "deep maternal instinct kicks in for me when my children are sick. I love them even more than I did before they started yakking, and my empathy is so fierce it's almost as if I'm ill, too." 

And I was thinking how you would have to lock me in a closet and throw away the key to stop me from taking care of my children, no matter the consequences.

And then I wasn't thinking anymore, but weeping for the mothers who weren't just thinking theoretically about Ebola while their children waited for the face-painting to begin.

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