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Wearing a Mask Isn’t About You

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I am incredibly disheartened by the rhetoric circulating through our town, state and country. Mask-wearing has become an issue of politics rather than kindness and human decency. While I understand that challenging authority is necessary to democracy, this is not “forced conformity,” but rather an act of solidarity with those in your community who are more vulnerable than you. Some of our neighbors and members of our family refuse to wear a mask in public at what could be the expense of my child and others like her.

My daughter Lily was born extremely prematurely after the in-utero death of her twin sister. Lily spent eight months in the NICU fighting for her life and finally came home in April 2019 with a tracheostomy, ventilator and oxygen therapy. Because of her premature birth, she is immunocompromised and her lungs are scarred and damaged from the ventilator used to keep her alive. If she were to contract the virus, she likely would die. We have already gone to hell and back watching our child lay sedated in a hospital bed with IVs, electrodes and the whirring of life-saving machines. Going back to that place, laying at her isolette begging for her to live, is unfathomable.

The argument that vulnerable populations should “just stay home” is not a valid one. I have to venture out of my home to pick up my child’s life-sustaining medications. We rely on curbside pickup from stores and restaurants in order to eat and keep our home running. Those orders were filled by members of our community who are exposed to countless others because their jobs are necessary. To suggest that medically fragile families can stay home and “wait it out” puts our needs below that of everyone else around us, further reinforcing our seclusion.

I understand that we have no choice but to continue our quarantine practices. I understand the economy needs to reopen and people need to resume their lives. But I will never understand the mentality that your “civil liberties” are more important than my child’s life.

I wear a mask for Lily. Who do you wear your mask for?

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This story originally appeared on Lily’s Little Lungs.

Originally published: June 30, 2020
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