What Covid Has Cost Us


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I haven’t written here for weeks.

I lost my voice a while ago. Covid took it, and I had no idea how to get it back.

I’ve been enormously lucky, and I know that. As the United States passes the point of half a million deaths from this terrible new disease, I am one of the few who can say that I have not lost anyone close to me. Yes, my family has been hit by the virus, and we have had our terrified days of wondering how badly our loved ones will suffer, but to date we have not lost a family member.

We are lucky.

I know that.

But as we come closer, day by day, to the end of this seemingly endless stretch of pandemic days, I am ever more aware of all that we have individually and collectively lost. As that faint light at the end of our universal tunnel grows incrementally closer, I find it harder and harder to look away from all that has been stolen from us.

I will turn 65 years old in three short weeks. I’ll be able to get my vaccination, and within six more weeks, I’ll be essentially free of the fear that has gripped the world for the past year.

I can’t wait for that moment. I am truthfully breathless at the thought of being so free, finally, and so able to once again embrace my life.

But this “almost there” feeling has somehow catapulted me right back to the early fears of this terrible global disaster. And I can’t stop thinking of all that we’ve lost, and all that we now have a duty to mourn.

I am so sad tonight.

My heart is breaking at the thought of all the birthdays I didn’t get to celebrate last year. It hurts to think about the weddings that didn’t ever happen, including the wedding of my youngest child to his wonderful, beautiful, much loved partner. I was so ready to dance and laugh and celebrate with them last summer, but it didn’t happen because of Covid.

I cry when I stop to realize that my newest grandchild is approaching a year old, but has never even once been held by the aunts, uncles, grandparents and great-grandparents who love him so much. He is already saying words, crawling around the house and feeding himself, but the people who should know him best have yet to even kiss his forehead.

I dream every night of earlier times. I dream of my now grown sons, and of the feel of their arms around me. Sometimes I dream of them as children, when I could fold them against my body and know that I was keeping them safe. Sometimes I dream of them as men, and how I loved to rest my head against their strong shoulders, knowing that they were happy and strong.

A year.

It’s been an entire year without those hugs. A full year without one shared dinner. Without a single morning of waking up in the same space. It has been 12 long, painful, difficult, exhausting months of wondering what would happen to us next. Week after week after week of Covid data and conflicting news reports and promises of better days.

For an entire year, everyone on this small blue planet has been waiting for some good news. We are united in our uncertainty and we share a common sense of loss.

We miss our lives. We miss driving to work, and having lunch with colleagues. We miss live concerts and dancing together in courtyards and fields. We miss holidays and forced family togetherness. We miss crowding around the table and bumping elbows with cousins. We miss our friends. We miss hugs and kissing cheeks and holding babies and holding hands and holding ourselves together with our shared laughter.

We’re still here. And there is a light at the end of this terrible tunnel. We think that someday all of this may become a memory.

But we need to grieve for now. We need to cry. We need to mourn the births that we were unable to celebrate and the deaths that we could not honor. We need to look at each other, every single human one of us, and we need to let out a cry to the universe about all that we won’t ever be able to regain.

We have lost a year. It won’t come back. There will be no second chance to live these months.

We’re coming up on a year.

And I am just so very very sad.

E Pluribus Unum


Here we are in the United States of America, in the year of our Lord, 2020. We are in an election year. We are in a year of record high temperatures around the globe.

And we are in the year when the world is grappling with a new and deadly disease for which there is neither a treatment nor a cure.

I wonder why our conversations online don’t reflect these facts? I wonder why the headlines aren’t focused on how to address any of these concerns?

I wonder.

Today I read about whether or not we need masks. I didn’t see a lot of factual information, and I didn’t see any ideas about how we might make the wearing of masks a more positive experience. I didn’t read much about making masks free or affordable.

What I did read is that people who wear masks are weak snowflakes who are buying into Bill Gates’ attempt to take over the world. I read that people who won’t wear masks are ignorant, selfish rednecks who want to kill all the old people.

Today I read stories and posts about whether or not Black lives matter in this country. I read about the question of whether or not racism exists. I read that the Black Lives Matter Movement is a Marxist attempt to take over the country. I read that every person who timidly states that they’re not racist is a history denying, ignorant self-centered privileged “Karen”.

We’re furious at each other about statues and about pieces of cloth and about words painted on city streets. We’re pouring all of our famous American ingenuity into meaningless memes that make the “other side” look stupid.

Fellow Americans: What the HELL are we doing???????

Here’s what I know.

A lot of radical lefties are in the ICU with COVID-19. They are in the same unit with a lot of right wing conservative MAGAs. They’re all on the same oxygen that keeps humans alive.

I know that a bunch of completely apolitical people have lost their jobs and their insurance and are scared to death of what’s coming next. I know that a bunch of political activists have lost their jobs and their insurance and are scared to death to think about next month.

You know who is at risk of COVID? White people. Also brown ones. And Asians. And dark black recent African immigrants. And Europeans. And Pacific Islanders and red heads and Puerto Ricans and Japanese and Bahamians and New Zealanders. Don’t forget Russians, Poles, Italians, Greeks, Egyptians, Tunisians and Siberian residents. People with glasses and people who run marathons. Singers and accountants and engineers and teachers and Grandmas and babies.

Every. Human. Being. Is. At. Risk.

Why aren’t we focused on how to make it better? Some of my very conservative family members are businessmen. They are creative and efficient. Why aren’t we seeing them come up with efficient solutions to help businesses stay open and stay safe? Is it because they’re too busy finding and sharing memes about “owning the libs”?

Some of my very liberal friends and family are artists and therapists and teachers. They are creative, imaginative and flexible. Why aren’t they publicly sharing ideas about how to maximize our human talent in ways that will support the community? Could it be because they are getting some weird pleasure out of finding and sharing memes about the stupidity of conservatives?

I don’t know.

I’m as guilty as anyone else, though, that I will admit.

Today I argued with my Uncle about the definition of “antifa”. My Uncle, who I have known and loved my entire life. My uncle, who is one of the funniest, most clever, most intelligent guys in the world. He is informed, he is smart, he is articulate. We completely disagree on political and economic issues, but so the hell what?

Why am I not asking him how he’d approach the reopening of businesses in this climate? Why am I wasting my time pointing fingers and arguing about which side’s vandals desecrated a truly sacred memorial?

I don’t know. I know that I’m scared. I know that I want this to be over. I know that I want to be able to hug my mom again, to kiss my sons again. I want to be with my friends and I want to know that this blessed earth is a safe place for my children to raise more children.

I’d like to find a way to remind my loved ones, conservative and liberal, that everyone is in the same boat and that the storm is raging. It doesn’t matter who is captain right now. It matters that all of us mere sailors start working together to bail her out, keep her steady, and get her back to shore.

The D’s and the R’s can call each other names all they want. Nancy and Chuck can point fingers at Mitch and Donnie all they want and vice versa.

But we, we Americans, we the people, we damn well better find a way to work together and stop our stupid bickering. If we don’t, this old boat is going to crash itself on the shoals and we are all going to go down into the endless deep together.

E pluribus unum.

Time to find our unum.