My 80-year-old father and my 8-year-old daughter, failing at social distancing.

I'm the quarantine buffer among three generations of my family. All in one house

Updated 3:03 PM ET, Sat April 11, 2020

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We are publishing personal essays from CNN's global staff as they live and cover the story of Covid-19. S. Mitra Kalita is the senior vice president for news, opinion and programming for CNN Digital.

(CNN)This is taking forever to write. I can't focus and my mind is either always racing or responding: Do we have milk, does she have a fever, the dog needs a walk, where's Papa's will, is ours updated, time for a team meeting, maybe my throat hurts, Trump's speaking in the Rose Garden, charades on Zoom sound cool, Mama? Mama? Mama??!!

Mitra Kalita
I look back on other periods of my life, like when 9/11 changed my career, and sharing felt natural and therapeutic and necessary.
This time, I don't know where to begin. Perhaps because nobody knows how it ends.

The day we left New York City

A friend describes it like a switch that goes off: That moment you take the virus seriously and life changes, suddenly, completely.
For us it began three weeks ago -- on Friday, March 13, which happens to be our 16th wedding anniversary. That was the day that me, my husband, our two daughters, our shaggy mutt and a million Ikea bags stuffed with rations decamped from Queens to my parents' home in New Jersey.
Schools had not yet been shut, but we made the decision to leave regardless. New York City felt like it was about to get bad. My employer, CNN, had moved to WFH mode.
    We returned to the house where I was raised outside Princeton and began setting up for three generations to live, indefinitely. If that strikes you as wildly irresponsible and the opposite of social-distancing guidance, imagine how we felt -- possibly exposing my elderly parents to whatever we New Yorkers had acquired from subways and buses and Lyfts and lockers and classrooms and cubicles.
    But we were driven by even greater fears. First, mine: My father was recovering in a rehabilitation facility in central Jersey after a stroke in mid-February. I did not want my vivacious father (he had so many visitors at rehab that a therapist once asked me if he was famous) to be alone. In life or death.
    Second, my husband's fear: He did not want us to be separated. In the weeks after the stroke I had been commuting between my home, my parents' home, the hospital, then rehab and work. As coronavirus cases and closures grew, he feared that shut-down transit, bridges or tunnels could strand or divide us. And he weighed the dangers of coming and going versus sheltering in place.
    Sure enough, the Friday night we arrived, my father's rehab announced it would stop allowing visitors the next day.
    We took this photo at a party we threw in September, partly to celebrate my dad's 80th birthday. Here my parents are surrounded by their three kids, their kids' spouses, and my daughters.