That heartbreaking scene: a father or a mother gasping for breath, quarantined in the hospital, cared for by a nurse with a mask strapped on so tightly and for so long that it bruises her and makes her eyes bulge, a soldier of the front line, the victim unable to see the children or the spouse even for a farewell, not even with last shallow breaths in a room full of panting afternoon death. It is there. Any time I pick up a piece of mail or an Amazon delivery, there it is, skimming the invisible surface, the substance of death, silent and staring. Every time I brave the grocery store, a joy turned haunted house. Every time my nose runs or I cough or I feel sluggish or can’t smell food. It is there. Every time I open the news, or check the stock market or attempt to garner business, it is with me. As real as I myself.
And yet my puny paranoias are nothing to the country and the world that actually bleeds. To the ones who have lost parts of their family, who have gasped their last. They have lied there in comatic wonder, cursing the government that failed them, the politics that slowed relief, the social agendas, the ridiculous concerns of life in the face of death. They have been trapped in their bodies, deprived of the food of life, wondering why with the last breaths they have taken. They are out there. Across this screen in the hospitals, those poor dying ghosts, alone, outside of the house I don’t leave, worlds away down the street, and real. Real pain that I am pledged to avoid.
What can one do in the midst of this giant collective funeral? As I am not a doctor, I can only directly assist with my distance and sympathy. But beyond that, I can contribute the humble things I have. I can contribute in guiding the teens who, though not dying, have been cast aside by the severity of annihilation and relegated to corners of the house to watch Youtube. It’s trivial in comparison, but it’s all I have to give. We can all still contribute what we have, our part to positive humanity, even if seemingly small and pointless. Recovery is one paddle at a time, dipped back in the deep water, to regain the stride so recently lost. It’s one that won’t save the dead and dying, but just might save the alive.