After a Long Hiatus, We Finally Returned to Outdoor Church Services

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by Meagan Cheney |

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The previous weekend, I did something I haven’t done since March of last year: I woke up early, got all of the kids into the car, and headed to church.

Truthfully, I had a small panic attack the previous night about all the “what ifs” that might happen in this crazy COVID-19 world. But my husband was there to give me the push I needed. He told me that if I didn’t go, I’d continue to become increasingly paranoid, and our church leaders were doing everything they could to keep the risk down. I believed it was now or never, and I chose now.

Although Mass was held outside, I still wore a mask, as did all of my children. Austen, my 6-year-old with Dravet syndrome, had a bit of a hard time keeping hers on, but she did a pretty good job. We sat in the back of the tent, and I let the two little ones play in the grass by themselves during the service. We didn’t give hugs or shake hands, but we were able to talk to parishioners we hadn’t seen in a year and a half.

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Most importantly for me, I got to take the Eucharist. I have only received it once since the pandemic started, at a drive-thru Easter service earlier this year. And although it was only partial — they didn’t serve the wine to minimize the risk of COVID-19 —  it was so good for my soul.

I know many people do just fine without attending church each week, or even ever. I’m not one of those people. Sunday Mass allows me to pause and reset each week, and to take a moment to breathe before I start another cycle of home-schooling, medications, and everything else Dravet syndrome decides to throw at us. Being unable to attend in the past year has been hard on me, both spiritually and psychologically. Being back, on the other hand, felt amazing.

I was still scared, though. I’ve been monitoring temperatures all week, and I’ve panicked a bit over every little symptom the kids show. Atlas, my 7-year-old son, coughed this morning, and I ended up checking his temperature no fewer than five times throughout the day. I might sound crazy, but I can’t help it. If he gets a fever, Austen will get one, too, and fevers mean seizures for Austen.

As long as no symptoms pop up, we will go back next week, and each week after, as long as service is held outdoors. I’m not sure how I will feel when the weather turns cold and the service is moved back indoors, but I’ll worry about that when the time comes.

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Note: Dravet Syndrome News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Dravet Syndrome News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Dravet syndrome.

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