For some North Texas families, this holiday season will be their first back together since the pandemic began.
Sisters Danielle Shermer and Nicole Daboue haven’t hugged in more than two years.
Daboue and her daughter moved to Australia at the start of the pandemic. And with its borders still closed, the family became resigned to birthdays and holidays shared over a screen.
When their father died from COVID-19 and Alzheimer’s last November, Daboue spent those final hours with him, Shermer and their mother via FaceTime.
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“In a way, it feels like we haven’t missed a beat. But also, it feels like the last two years were just this black hole,” said Daboue.
But as the holidays approached, the moment Daboue had long waited for was announced. Australia was reopening its borders to non-citizens, making her return home post-visit possible.
Without telling her sister, she booked one of the first flights out.
And Tuesday, without Shermer or the women’s mother suspecting anything, Dubois and her 6-year-old showed up at the back door.
“It took me a while to even process what was happening. I couldn’t take it in. I wanted my mom to see them before I could even let myself process that it’s real,” said Shermer.
Following tears, hugs and laughter, the family began reconnecting and making up for lost time. It’s the longest they’ve been apart. And knock on wood, the longest they’ll ever have to go without spending time together face-to-face.