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Dear Reader: You’ve Got Mail

Publisher's Note for ParentMap's May 2020 Issue

Published on: April 27, 2020

sulkin family

We’ve all got a story to tell about COVID-19. I pray yours is not one of illness or loss; there are sadly so many.

My story centers around one of my many bad habits: I don’t open mail. Sure, a gorgeous wedding invitation makes the cut. Bills don’t. Years ago, when our utilities were turned off (again!), my mostly mild-tempered husband Bobby became fed up with my inability to prioritize bill paying, which was, after all, my assigned task. Between my low prio-tude and his bill-paying-induced back spasms, we resolved that hiring someone — Queen T — for the job was the magical answer. Mind you, our now harmonious-as-hell marriage is based on a mutual respect for chaos. From day number one of our 38-year union, no one ever recorded a check (when we were bouncing many) or balanced a checkbook (remember when that was a thing?). 

My husband, now 64, showed fast and serious signs of COVID-19 infection in early March. We immediately quarantined him upstairs. Because of our family’s kissin’ and huggin’ habits, we assumed we were all likely positive and did our best to behave accordingly. 

I quickly mastered the food drop, complete with a door-kick notification and a hightail outta there. On Bobby’s worst day and night, when I had read too many horror stories, I slept next to our bedroom door, fearing that I wouldn’t hear him call for me. Bobby thankfully never required hospitalization, though I did come pretty close to injuring him myself for his repeated breezy — “just light symptoms” — reports to friends, while I was in an out-of-character state of constant panic. 

A couple of days later, I took my brother, who has multiple sclerosis, to be tested. Once I reported my husband’s condition and the fact that we have a daughter who is pregnant and some kids with immunodeficiency issues, I was tested as well. After submitting to a most unpleasant swab (truly underreported, how unpleasant that experience is), we were told we’d hear back if we tested positive.

Days went by as I worked harder than ever, navigating how to keep our extraordinary ParentMap team working, nursing my patient, and, like so many moms (yay, MOMS!), cooking way more than ever, doing laundry, and deep-cleaning constantly, all while frantically worrying about my family’s health. 

Through it all, I never showed a single symptom.

Back to my bill-paying Queen T! She texted me repeatedly for weeks that I needed to sift through the stacks of mail for bills. By 2:30 a.m. on the scheduled pickup day, I came to the final few pieces of correspondence. Among them, not one, but two letters from the CDC. I assumed the CDC mistakenly sent two letters to Bobby until I opened one that read, “Alayne Sulkin, as you recover, we ask you to consider donating your plasma …” 

This year on Mother’s Day, I will reflect with deep gratitude that I have every possible gift I will ever want — though my family was touched by this pandemic, everyone is healthy. And we will donate plasma, in hopes that doing so will restore others to wellness.

The ParentMap team wishes all dear mothers a happy and healthy Mother’s Day!

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