"When you get a phone call saying your mother's on life support, she's dying if you want to say goodbye, you book the next flight," Samantha May said.
That call was March 5, and May and her husband immediately to California from Vietnam, where they'd moved less than a year ago.
The couple decided to leave their two sons, 9-year-old Gus and 11-year-old Wolf, with her sister in Southeast Asia.
"I thought, OK, can you handle it for seven days?" she said. "It will be okay for seven days."
But seven WEEKS later, they're stranded in the US.
When they got to the states and learned May's 83-year-old mother-in-law had COVID-19, she and her husband had to quarantine.
"We were just watching it going on," she said. "My God, oh my God, they're going to close the borders. And by the time we got off our quarantine, it was too late."
Vietnam closed off travel to foreign nationals, and May didn't want to risk her kids taking the flight -- which is not direct -- and getting trapped in another country.
So now ,she has to wait until Vietnam reopens travel while her sister has gone from aunt to full time mom.
"We did call the state department, which we told you, they had no answers for me," she said. "It's breaking my heart. It's really hard. You just kind of have to throw up your hands."
She's already missed one of her son's birthdays and Easter, and it's unclear how many weeks or months it will be until she can get back to them.
She said she has to focus on the positive, like her mother-in-law, who made a miraculous recovery and is now at home.
"We are one of the lucky few that his mother survived," she said. "She's a survivor."
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