I’m 48 years old and the mother of four kids. My name is Ahlam, my husband Husam works for the navy, so the kids and I don’t get to see him a lot.

Unfortunately, he couldn’t quit his job of being an army employee during the pandemic. We had been worrying about his health while he was away and we were even more stressed about his coming back home, assuming he might be carrying the virus with him from his workplace. As you may know, health services here in Syria are limited, so getting sick is harder to treat here.

It was around February 2021, when my husband called and said he was going to head home. The kids and I were very excited and we started preparing the house for his coming. Luckily, by the time he would arrive, it was going to be his birthday. With the help of my daughters, we prepared his favorite foods, and we ordered a birthday cake too. We never know how long he stays when he comes, so we decided to have his birthday a little bit earlier just in case he didn’t stay long.

The doorbell rang and he was there, looking healthy and smiling. We all welcomed him, and in an hour, we were having lunch together. Husam said he was going to stay for only two days this time. We were both happy and sad. Happy for celebrating his birthday all together, but upset about him not staying long. Thankfully, we had a great time together. The kids ate all the cake and forgot to leave even a tiny slice for their dad, who was the birthday boy!

Two days passed and Husam left the house for work. We said our goodbyes and prayers to him, and he was gone. Almost a week later, my eldest daughter Mariam complained of severe soreness in her throat. She looked pale and tired. I almost lost it! I asked my other kids if they had any problems regarding their bodies and they all seemed fine. Even I wasn’t feeling anything odd with my body.

I called my husband asking if he was feeling fine. He sounded just well, saying he was alright. I was in shock because neither kids nor I had barely left the house and it was just me who would leave the house. The kids would never do so. So how could Mariam be the only one with COVID-19?
I wasn’t sure, so I called the governmental health center responsible for PCR testing and reported the condition as urgent. It took a few days until they arrived, which didn’t help the situation with Mariam. Her fever wouldn’t stop rising and she had been staying in a room for days without seeing us. I needed to get her medications and the only way for it was for the test to be done, and the result to be negative. They took samples from all of us.

Her PCR test result came positive, but she wasn’t the only one! All my other kids were COVID-19 positive. I was the only one who had a negative result. My other kids were not showing any symptoms, but the doctor prescribed them some medications too.

I think it was the cake that had the virus in it. But the mystery remains. How didn’t I catch anything from my kids while living under the same roof with them? Thank God Husam hadn’t caught anything from them.