Sandra Smith is a longtime parishioner who was recently named Cathedral Chaplain. Her perspective as an immune-compromised person is uniquely valuable at this time, when we are all forced to consider the effect that our choices and habits could have on others. She submitted the thoughtful reflection below:
Thank you all—the people of our Church and of our State—for participating in social distancing as we all navigate preventing and containing the spread of the COVID-19 virus. I am very proud of and grateful to our Church specifically, and our city and state governments, Seattle and Washington, for implementing social distancing as a norm.
As an immune compromised individual (living with cancer at this time of COVID-19), I am very aware of who is coughing nearby, and whether they cover their cough appropriately, and the distance between where they are and where I am. I have to be. I don’t have the robust immunity of someone who is healthy, so I may not have the ability to fight infection, and that can affect my health quite seriously and quickly. I don’t shake hands or hug people today, and don’t attend groups. I wash my hands fully and frequently, before preparing food, before eating, after using the bathroom, and after touching shared common area surfaces.
It may seem like a crazy response to someone who is healthy that I’m washing my hands so much, or distancing myself from those I care about, and constantly discerning all the surfaces I touch with a heighten awareness and vigilance. I want to protect all of you from the spread of this virus as much as I don’t want to catch it myself. I don’t want you to get sick, nor to unknowingly affect others like me whose health isn’t robust either. We are one people interwoven with each other.
So I am continuing to respond to life with an informed cautious response amidst this virus, now in tandem with the advice of my medical care team, the cancer support agencies I rely on, and my Church who have all sided with “an over abundance of caution.” I attended a family memorial exercising social distancing norms which was awkward and difficult to not hug, but the last thing I wanted to do was to transmit anything to my family. So not hugging was my way to love them intensely.
Let’s continue building up our community and family connections in creative ways by phone, web-conferencing, email, sending letters and texts, settling into the still place where I believe God resides, speaking to our hearts. As my mom always said, “This too shall pass.” Be vigilant.