Cherelyn is a single mom to a 16 year old and a 7 year old. She has been working in home care for 23 years as a Continuing Care Assistant (CCA) and she’s used to coming home feeling tired but satisfied with a job well done. Now there is an additional feeling that follows her from work daily, fear, pure unadulterated fear.
Not just fear for herself but fear for her children.
Every day she wonders, is this the day I get infected? What if I infect my children? Are the PPE’s I’m using sufficient to protect me and by extension my children?
This is even more poignant because every day Cherelyn is struck with the knowledge that she is all her kids have and she dares not contemplate what would happen to them if she falls ill.
Cherelyn’s youngest has ADHD and she misses being able to help him with his school work and her boy misses her and she tries to explain to him why mommy can’t help him with school work right now.
Not only is this taking an emotional toll on Cherelyn but also her children, especially her daughter. She understands that her mom has to go to work and she calls her making sure she’s safe. Cherelyn’s daughter wrote her a letter this past mother’s day:
“While most people have been spending time with their moms at home I have been taking care of my little brother while my mom goes out and helps on the front line as a healthcare worker. She gets up at 5 AM every morning to go to work where she supports, cares and helps those whose families can no longer visit them.
After a long day of working she comes home and takes care of my brother and I. No matter how tired or sore she is she always is able to put a smile on her face and food on the table. So while most people will be cooking, baking, making crafts or watching a movie with their moms on Mother's Day, I'll be at home waiting for my mom to come back from work, and praying she will be safe protecting those who need it most.
Because of that, I know she is the best and most caring mom a person can ask for”.
Cherelyn is forced to make one of the toughest decisions a parent may have to make, being torn between being safe and providing for her family.
Many front line heroes have this kind of fear but others are quick to dismiss this as an overreaction or fear mongering. They can say this from the comfort of their home when they probably can’t remember the last time they actively put their lives at risk for others, while being paid insufficient wages.
The human cost to essential workers is hard to comprehend especially if you haven’t walked in their shoes. As the province begins to reopen, we must give a thought to those who at great personal cost are prepared to fight for us even though they are ill equipped and underpaid.