Although they only live 15 minutes away from each another, Cheryl Norton and her daughter Kelsey Kerr had not touched one another in a month — and that was tough for them.
“We’ve always been big huggers,” Kerr, 28, explained to Good Morning America on Wednesday. “And it’s been pretty unusual.”
The mother and daughter have been practicing strict social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic for a few reasons. Norton, 64, and her husband are vulnerable to the virus due to their ages and preexisting medical conditions. Kerr is an ICU nurse and due to her close proximity to patients with the virus, she didn’t want to risk transmitting it to her mom.
Due to this, Kerr and Norton have gotten into a strange rhythm the past few weeks.
When Kerr needs to pick something up at her mom’s house in Blue Ash, Ohio, she backs her car into the driveway. Norton then plops whatever her daughter needs into the trunk, and Kerr drives away.
But when Kerr stopped by her mom’s house in last week to pick up prayer squares for her patients, Norton couldn’t suppress her inner snuggle-monster any longer.
In a completely spontaneous move, Norton grabbed a sheet from her laundry basket, draped it over Kerr (who was wearing a face mask) and gave her daughter a hug outside.
“It felt like my heart went, ’Ahhh,’” Norton told the Cincinnati Enquirer. “It felt so good to hold her for a second.”
Liz Dufour, a family friend and photographer for the Enquirer, just happened to be walking in Norton’s neighborhood during the time of the hug and captured the sweet moment from a comfortable distance.
“The thing that was interesting about the photograph is you could see how tight she was holding me,” Norton said. “It was like she was home again. She was safe in my arms. For that moment, for that split second, she was safe.”
Kerr backed up her mother’s assessment of the moment on GMA.
“It was so nice,” Kerr, who is quarantining with her husband and their dog, told the morning talk show.
Kerr told GMA that in preparation for a possible COVID-19 surge, she’s been working four 12-hour shifts a week at Christ Hospital in Cincinnati.
“I see on social media that all these health care workers are feeling very isolated and I didn’t want that to happen to her,” Norton said of her reasoning behind taking the risk of giving her daughter some physical affection.
Norton also told the Enquirer: “I did it for me. But that was kind of selfish. I did it for her also because I didn’t want her to feel like she was contaminated.”