Emotional photo shows sweet moment between a nurse and her mom

Cheryl Norton knew it might be sometime before she saw her daughter again, so she gave her "the safest hug" possible.
Cheryl Norton, of Blue Ash, hugs her daughter, Kelsey Kerr, 28, an ICU nurse at Christ Hospital and working the front lines during the new coronavirus pandemic, Friday, April 3, 2020. Norton so much wanted to hug her, so she put a sheet over her so she could hold her tight, just for a moment. After this hug, Cheryl dropped the covering in the garage. It will lie there for three days before she washes it in hot soapy water. And she, of course, washed her hands. An involved process for a hug.
Cheryl Norton, of Blue Ash, hugs her daughter, Kelsey Kerr, 28, an ICU nurse at Christ Hospital and working the front lines during the new coronavirus pandemic, Friday, April 3, 2020. Norton so much wanted to hug her, so she put a sheet over her so she could hold her tight, just for a moment. After this hug, Cheryl dropped the covering in the garage. It will lie there for three days before she washes it in hot soapy water. And she, of course, washed her hands. An involved process for a hug.Liz Dufour/The Enquirer
/ Source: TODAY

A touching photo shows how a mother and her daughter, a surgical ICU nurse, were able to safely hug and comfort each other despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Pulitzer-Prize winning photographer Liz Dufour captured the moment and shared it on social media. TODAY spoke with the mother and daughter pair captured in the photo to get more details about how the emotional scene came to be.

Cheryl Norton said that when the photograph was taken, her daughter Kelsey Kerr wasn't working with COVID-19 patients yet, but was still working in a hospital setting. Norton herself had been self-isolating for several weeks by then.

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"I knew she would be doing a drive-by," Norton said. Kerr, who works at Christ Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio, was coming to her mom's to pick up prayer shawls that she planned to give to patients nearing the end of their lives who weren't able to have people visit them due to the virus.

Kerr said that since the pandemic broke out, she and her mother have been doing drive-by drop-offs and placing things in the trunk of their cars, without any contact, to maintain social distancing guidelines.

Norton said that she had asked neighbors to "stick (their) head out the window and wave" to Kerr as she approached. Dufour, who lives two doors down, came out to say hello and was able to capture the heartfelt moment.

The sweet mother-daughter photo was captured by a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer who happened to live two doors down. Liz Dufour/The Enquirer

Norton said that her decision to drape the sheet over Kerr and hug her was "spontaneous."

"I can't say I thought it up," said Norton, who works in the payroll department of another Ohio hospital. "I just had this clean sheet there when I was walking out the door... I didn't even think it through, I just decided to grab it. I know it's not going to protect people from the actual COVID, it's not a shield or anything, but she had a mask on and I was careful to let it fall to the ground when I took it off her."

Norton added that once she went inside, she washed her hands and immediately showered. She left the sheet outdoors for three days before washing it in warm, soapy water.

"I wanted to give her the safest hug I could, and I knew I wasn't going to see her for a couple months," Norton said. "It was kind of like a goodbye hug."

"We've always been huggers, and it's been weird not to be doing that," said Kerr, who said she hasn't seen her mother since the photograph was taken. "It was wonderful."

Both family members said they were glad that the moment was captured by Dufour.

"It was the right place, the right time, the right lighting, I think," Kerr joked.

"She took the picture, and I was like 'I don't know why she took this picture,'" Norton said. "But when I saw the picture, I saw the love that I was feeling for her, and for all health care workers and first responders, coming through... When I looked at the picture after I saw the way (Kerr's) hands were clasped around me. I didn't realize she was holding on to me as tight as I was holding onto her."