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This is my why

An Airman poses for a photo.

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Marcus Bullock, 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs photojournalist, poses for a photo after receiving his COVID-19 vaccination at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, Jan. 29, 2021. Bullock stated his reason for getting the vaccine was to help his mother and son be able to have a play date again. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Zoie Cox)

JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. --

When the COVID-19 pandemic began, I never anticipated we would be to the point where we are today. Jobs have been lost, businesses have closed and everyone’s world has shifted. We’ve even lost the opportunity for the types of social interaction that helps bring us together.

For me, the hardest part of this pandemic has been the loss of time with friends and family. Time that we can seemingly never get back. My parents live only a few hours away, yet because of social distancing and certain travel restrictions, they might as well live on the other side of the country. We have made it a point to avoid gathering as a family for the safety of my mother, who falls in the high-risk category after her long time battle with breast cancer and a subsequent leukemia diagnosis.

When I first came to Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, the location seemed ideal for my wife and I to begin raising our son, whom my wife had given birth to while I was away in Tech School. Virginia was only a few hours from each of our families which allowed for either side to visit. My mother would take full advantage of this and frequently come to visit us, mainly to spend time with her first grandson and solidify that sacred bond between grandparent and grandchild. She was there for many of our son’s milestones. She was able to witness his first steps, be there for his first birthday, and even came to have conversations with my son, muttering his gibberish before he learned to speak.

Since March of 2020, these sporadic visits all but stopped. Play dates are replaced by video chats with our whole family. We try and maintain some level of normalcy but if you ask my mother, she will tell you it’s not enough; it’s not the same.

When the vaccines for COVID-19 became available to the public, it seemed like a no-brainer for our family to get them. I mean, if there was anything we could do to help us transition back to our normal livelihood, we would do it.

People ask me why I chose to get vaccinated and I found the answer simple. I would do it so my mother and my son can have their play dates again; so hugs and kisses don’t have to be given over the phone but can be exchanged in person. I got the shot so my mother can come and see my son grow up with her own eyes.

More than that, I got vaccinated so families all over the country can try to get back to the place they were before all of this began. A place where we can hug, laugh and be together without constant fear lurking in the back of our minds. A place where we can make memories together again.

My wife, my mother, my son; my family. These are my why.