This pandemic has kept a lot of us away from the people we love most. One woman can relate to that far too well. Now, she shares her story about how the strongest bonds can overcome so much.
Between Franklin, Tennessee and Phoenix, Arizona, there are 1,633 miles and many exits, billboards, hotels, and mile markers.
That's the space between the homes of Stacey Lenning and her sister Jennifer Stein.
"My sister is pretty much my everything," smiled Stacey.
That's why a planned trip last month to visit Jennifer in Pheonix was so huge for Stacey. Arriving in Arizona, Stacey noticed something was very wrong.
"I lost my taste and smell," said Stacey. "That's one of the red flag signs of COVID."
Stacey tested positive, with her family trying to keep up her spirits on a 1,633-mile drive home.
"First thought was wow, what a shock," said Stacey. "Then, it was fear. You don't know how sick you'll become. I could handle COVID, but I couldn't handle the heartbreak of being so close to my family and not being able to see them."
Stacey spent three weeks in quarantine and recovered. It's been a while since the time she was supposed to see her sister.
A cell phone video this week captured what Stacey believed was a regular day at home with her family. The video shows Stacey turn a corner in the house when a voice shouts 'Surprise!' Jennifer's family walks out, surprising Stacey with a visit.
"I mean, it was in disbelief," smiled Stacey.
"I knew that surprise was the dose of medicine she needed," said Jennifer.
Both sisters' families are now visiting together. All those miles, exits, billboards, hotels, mile markers between them; none of it matters one bit.
"I actually think the distance brought us closer," said Stacey. "I'm just grateful for our relationship. She means the world to me."
Stacey added her family is living proof of the importance of wearing masks. After she was diagnosed, Stacey, her husband, and her boys made that 25-hour trip back to Franklin. They all wore masks in the car, and Stacey said her husband and her boys did not get COVID.