BOALSBURG, Centre County, Pa. (WTAJ)– For essential workers like Travis Beck, his daily routine hasn’t changed much since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. He goes to work, picks up some groceries, and goes home. However, that last stop is only temporary.
For the last two months, Travis has been living with his parents, separated from his girlfriend and two children. “I haven’t been going home because I work in a grocery store so I’m vulnerable to COVID,” he explains, “Caitlin having her health issues it’s just safer for me not to be home.”
Travis’ girlfriend, Caitlin Bala, has a compromised immune system. She’s been on medical leave from work and stays at home with her six-year-old son Aiden and her and Beck’s 18-month-old daughter, Bella.
Travis is able to stop by the house two to three times a week to drop off groceries at a distance. He leaves them on the front step and sprays the bags with disinfectant.
The visits last for about 20 to 30 minutes with him catching up with Caitlin and the kids through the window and screened front door.
Caitlin says, “The baby, she misses him. She doesn’t understand why he’s not here and why when he comes here to drop off our groceries, he leaves.”
According to Caitlin, the experience is even harder for Aiden. “He understands to a point, but he wants him (Travis) to be home. It helps for him to visit like today, but not as much as dad being home. Dad being able to go outside and play.”
“Me and Bella used to play around,” Aiden describes, “but we’re both also sad around.”
Aside from the visits, the family keeps in touch over the phone and video calls, but it’s not the same. Caitlin says, “I always tell him when he leaves, ‘I wish you could just be here.’ And when he gets home, ‘I wish you could just be here.’ He knows we miss him so much. So, when he drives away, it’s sad.”
“It hurts,” Travis details, “I’m just want this whole thing to be over.”
While this time is difficult for the family, they say it’s the belief that they are doing the right thing that’s powering them through until they can be back together.
Until then, they cherish the small visits taking place separated by a screen door.