It has been 160 days since normalcy. 160 days since untethered visitation with Jess. 160 days since Mitch and I have received kisses on our cheeks and risk-free hugs. 160 days since Jess has been in our home.
On Wednesday, Mitch and I arrived at Jessica’s house. It was our standard outside, 6-feet apart meeting. We were unable to visit for two weeks due to a suspected Covid exposure of two staff. Jessica’s home was on lockdown for 14-days. Fortunately, the Covid results were negative.
Our first greatest moment was when we saw Jess scream with delight.
She cannot contain herself. Which, in turn, brings joy to anyone in listening range. (well, perhaps the neighbors aren’t big fans…)
Our second most significant moment was the back and forth singing that Mitch and Jess engaged in throughout the visit. Mitch hums a tune, and Jess repeats the same melody. They are conversing in the language of Jess.
Jessica is 38 years old. When she was in high school, she joined the chorus. This is unusual because Jessica is nonverbal. The teachers at her school witnessed Jessica’s love of music and knew that Jess would enjoy participating, to the best of her ability, in the chorus.
One day that school year, Jess came home singing the scales. She starts low and goes up the musical ladder and then makes her way back down. We spoke to her teacher and found out that when Jess was in the chorus, she learned to practice her scales with the class.
Our third greatest moment on day 160 was when Jess and I sang the scales. Jess has pitch memory, she can hear notes, the solfège syllables DO RE MI, and accurately sing those notes back.
Distancing is the Opposite of Inclusion
We worry if Jess is losing skills while she is distancing at home. She no longer attends a day program and no longer has direct, face-to-face therapy. This is the opposite of inclusion, which we fought so hard for from the time she was young. Yet, this segregation is keeping Jess and her housemates safe. In this instance, we choose separation. Covid-19 has forced us to insist that Jess narrow her circle of contacts to the minimum.
Yet, when we see Jess, she is still her same cheerful self. She even gives us the greatest moments to sing about. She is weathering the storm thanks to all her staff at her People Incorporated group home.
Hopefully, we will all come out of the pandemic, still able to sing a happy tune.
People Inc. link below: