Written by Samara Cohen in true New Yorker fashion. I use the word FUCK a lot!
I had just reached a milestone. On November 29th, 2020 I turned 35. I wasn’t too excited about it. I’m always a little bummed out on my birthday, and now I had lots to complain about given the circumstances of the world. Despite my mood, my fiance treated me to a lovely macrobiotic dinner at Souen, and we celebrated with laughter and Whole Foods cupcakes at Mom's house for a birthday dessert.
December was off to a good start because we finally had shit to do. December 3rd was a big day for Harold and for me. I did a socially distanced outdoor video shoot at Lincoln Center and Harold performed for Sing For Hope and recorded a spectacular piano performance & interview for The New Yorker at Hudson Yards. We remarked on how lucky we were to have such amazing gigs & press in the middle of a pandemic.
The next day I gave my mom a call, and then she said it... "I'm sick."
My heart jumped into my throat. 'Nooooo please don't be COVID, please don't be COVID!'
We ran to Duane Read and brought her some medicine and a thermometer. "We stood in the doorway & handed over the drugs" (Theraflu.) She looked under the weather but she was ok. Maybe it's just a cold. It is cold-season after all. The next day, I started to feel sick. I felt like shit, but I wasn't coughing & I could breathe. Maybe it was from dancing outside in the cold the day before. I had a rough night (body ache & fatigue,) but I was pretty much better the next morning. I ran out to get tested. The rapid test came back positive. FUCK! I called my mom. She sounded worse. Physically I was fine, but I couldn't take care of my mom because I was positive. 'What if she only had the flu and then I were to go over there and give her COVID trying to help her. Who am I kidding, if I have covid she has COVID. FUCK FUCK FUCK! How did this happen?' The next day Harold started feeling sick. I notified everyone from the Lincoln Center shoot. They all felt fine and tested negative. Harold tested positive. 'Did we give it to mom or did she give it to us?' We went over every scenario and possibility concluding that there is absolutely no way to tell since people can start having symptoms anywhere between 2-14 days after contracting it, and also, at this point, it doesn't fucking matter!
For the next week, I lived on Grubhub, Instacart & Amazon. I sent over food, medicine, oximeters, healthy juices, vitamins, etc. I felt helpless, terrified, and frustrated. To say that I was anxious would’ve been an understatement. I was a nervous fucking wreck.
My mom's 76th birthday was coming up soon. Every day I called her praying she would be better, she wasn't. We sent a nurse practitioner to her house to give her the test. She had COVID. It was official, the sky was falling. I now felt what so many people around the world were feeling. I was scared I was going to lose my mom. I was scared it was my fault and there was nothing I could do. My mom made it quite clear that she was ”Not going to the hospital under any circumstances!” I get my stubbornness from her. "Why won't you just go to the hospital? They could make you better." "Because people who go to the hospital never come out." What the hell am I supposed to do with that?!
After lots of research, phone calls with Drs, & nurses, I concluded that it was fine for me to be with her as long as I was fully masked and shielded. I got a new N95, doubled up with one of my mom's handmade masks on top of it, put on a face shield and gloves, and with a 32 oz bottle of disinfecting spray in hand I headed over to her.
I sprayed everything down like a maniac, the banisters of my stairwell, doorknobs before & after handling, elevator buttons, the elevator, and before entering the house, myself. I gave her birthday gifts, ordered food for her & we watched old movies. I didn't take my mask off for a single second. I was overwhelmed with texts and calls from all of my mom's friends. I didn't know what to say to them. I tried healing her with a laundry list of vitamins, immune-boosting tinctures, & cold warriors shots from Juice Generation.
The next few days were the same. She was getting worse and I knew what I had to do.
After some encouragement from my fiance, I pulled an old fashioned Jewish guilt trip and convinced my mom to let me take her to the hospital. We got there just in time. I was so relieved. I wasn't alone anymore trying to play Doctor. She was in the care of professionals and they did everything they could to make her better.
After 3 days of treatment (Experimental Plasma Transfusion, Decadron, Antibiotics, Ambuterol), she made it out of the hospital. My cousin Andrea said it best, “She dodged a bullet.” It's seriously a miracle that things only got as bad as they did & not worse. WHEW. 'Thank you, thank you, thank you.'
I now realize more than ever how much my mom means to me and how much I need her. I realize how damn lucky we are! Even though we're confined to our homes and have to walk around with masks and hand sanitizer, all of that is nothing compared to the fear and pain at just the thought of losing someone you love. It made me think about all those who lost people to COVID. It’s just not fair.
I am writing this post not only to share my story but to warn you all... STOP FUCKING AROUND! Wear your mask all the time! Spray everything that enters your home! If you touch an ATM, an elevator button, a banister, a can of soup at the grocery store you have to sanitize your hands. If you handle cash you have to spray it before putting it in your pocket. I'm not kidding! I try not to, but when I do handle cash, I stand at the register & spray every bill front and back with alcohol, and I cleanse coins with a huge dollop of hand sanitizer. Of course, I get looks from people, but who cares! If you are wearing a shitty mask and get in an elevator with someone wearing an equally shitty mask, and that person sneezes, and they have covid... well, I'll just leave the rest to your imagination.
I'll be honest, before this happened, like most of us, I got a little relaxed. I stopped spraying grocery items, I walked outside with my mask on my chin drinking my Starbucks. I got lazy about sanitizing. I would go to the dog park and let people pet my dog, I pet other dogs. We went out to restaurants and enjoyed eating alfresco. We had dinner guests (one person at a time,) & we sat at a dinner table with family. Seriously... we can't fucking do that! Not now.
If you are running around going to work, etc., just stay away from your high-risk relatives. I know you love them, but loving them from afar is better than loving them up in heaven. Covid is real and it is a murderer! Being on the other side of it, seeing one of the people I love most in this world come face to face with what could have been terminal illness, I take pride in being a disinfecting lunatic.
My mom went through a traumatic experience and she came out stronger! I am so proud of her and so thankful for the support of my love Harold. I'm thankful to the Doctors & nurses at Mount Sinai Hospital and I’m thankful for all my friends & family who supported us through this.
I'm a happier person now because I realize that I have everything I need in the world, and that is my Mom & Harold! Oh, and Suji of course. We survived Covid 19 and had the best Christmas ever.
For Christmas, Harold and I made vegan cinnamon rolls from scratch, baked vegan sugar cookies, and watched the epic Pixar film Soul, for which Harold was brought in as a creative expert to meet with the film's director Pete Docter.
What an amazing movie! Life is a gift, don't waste it. Stop complaining. Eat cookies. Stop weighing yourself. Spend time with those you love, and get back to enjoying the simple things in life because for now at least, that's all we have!
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