April 24, 20217:00 AM ET, by Shahdabul Faraz
As I walked away from my parents at the Toronto airport last June, I desperately wanted to turn back to them. I briefly stole a look and noticed my father jerking his fist into the air, as if he were cheering me on for a marathon. My mother stood motionless, crying until her glasses became foggy. She had promised not to cry, but her “baby” — as she increasingly called me — was flying away.
I was returning to Boston to start business school, after completing two years of surgical residency in the early months of the pandemic.
Meanwhile, my parents continued to hunker down in their two-bedroom apartment in Toronto. My mother was 71 and my father almost 80, both with several high-risk medical conditions. To avoid catching the coronavirus, they rarely went outside. When they had to, they worshiped the “6 feet of social distancing” guidance as a Platonic truth.