I’m quite fortunate. Covid has brushed up close against me, but it hasn’t struck. I know a few people who’ve died, but no one truly close to me. And no one truly close to me has lost anyone.
In my neck of the woods, things were, for a while, unspeakably awful. You simply couldn’t miss it. I live close to a hospital, and seeing the hospital workers, seeing the refrigerated morgue trucks, seeing (hearing) the constant flow of ambulances for, literally, months, took an enormous amount out of me.
But, at the moment, things are… peaceful? Safe-feeling? New infections where I am are minuscule.
My fingers are crossed that it will stay this way; my fear is, it simply can’t, given the catastrophic way in which the rest of my “country” is handling it. (I say country because, increasingly, it feels as if we aren’t one country, but two.)
In any event, that’s not my point. My point is: in March and April and May, when we were getting hammered, I watched as the rest of the country poo-pooed safety measures. I watched as friends, acquaintances, far away (in California, in Texas, in Florida) were cavalier. I warned them. I warned them with tears in my eyes. I pleaded with some of them. I remonstrated. I used words like “naive,” “dumb,” and even “sociopathic” when they disregarded what was happening near me, and elsewhere in the world.
Well, now, the jig’s up.
I can’t say, I won’t say, that I’m happy. I’m not. People are dying. Healthcare workers are facing horrific working conditions, inadequate supplies, brutal hours, and are facing impossible decisions about who shall live, who shall die. I’m not happy about this. At. All.
And yet… and yet….
I’m old enough, and honest enough, to recognize the ugly feelings that lie deep within me. I wrote, years ago, about how pubescent girls at a bat mitzvah stirred my loins, even as the stirring itself repulsed me. I’ve written miles and miles of text about the things I want but can never have, should never have, wish I didn’t want. But. There’s no shame in feelings. They happen to us.
And I confess: as I look at the charts showing the mounting infections in other places – and particularly in those places where I knew people who were behaving other than I would have had them behave – I feel this tiny, tiny twinge of… satisfaction? relief? glee, even?
Again: I don’t want a single person to die. Not even the mask-resisting white supremacist Trump supporters who, honestly, asked for it. I don’t. I don’t want them to die. I don’t want them to get sick. I don’t want them to suffer.
But when I look just at the numbers, at the statistics, the sterile, unemotional graphics in the charts, there is a dark, dark part of me that wants to sing, just a little.
Stay home as much, for as long, as you can. Wear a fucking mask. Keep your circle small. Expand it thoughtfully, slowly. Get tested as often as you can (given our genocidally dysfunctional leadership).
And, for God’s sake, stay healthy.