500,071. Five hundred thousand and seventy-one lives.
Someone’s parent or grandparent, sibling, child, friend, partner, colleague. All ages, gender identity, skin hue, socioeconomic background, profession. A virus that has no political affiliation; opportunistic, it has the capacity to kill its hosts—it is an American tragedy.
I have a few in my life who have contracted COVID-19, and gratefully, they have recovered from the worst of it.
Some have the residual long hauler’s condition with fogginess, loss of taste or smell, and a cough. Further out in my circles are those who have lost loved ones. Arjun and Maddie Kaji created a film called Maddie’s Grandparents: A Preventable COVID Tragedy to honor his parents and her grandparents who died as a result of the disease.
A dear friend said goodbye to her mother via Zoom as she was in a nursing home across the country. Instead of enjoying more of her final years, she was on life support. Instead of having her children by her side, as they certainly would have gathered had times been different, they witnessed her take her final breath via the marvels of modern technology.
Yesterday I found myself watching a sobering tribute to those who died from COVID-19 as we crossed over 500,00 in this country. I feel deeply saddened and outraged because it didn’t have to be this way.
Anyone who still thinks it is a hoax, please check your information sources. Anyone who cavalierly flouts safety protocols, you are putting yourself and everyone at risk. Wear your mask, steer clear of others outside your home, wash your hands, don’t gather in crowds—common sense.
When I took my second vaccine two weeks ago, I felt a rush of emotion, knowing that I was protecting myself, my family, and the world. Each one of us who can get one, please do. I am in a high-risk group with a cardiac condition with a young grandson who I babysit, so I am grateful that I received the vaccines.
We owe it to each other to maintain safety. It feels like a sacred trust.
The uplifting words of President Biden echo in my ears and reverberate in my heart. He has become the Comforter in Chief, a role he is abundantly prepared for, having lost his first wife Nelia and baby daughter Naomi suddenly in a motor vehicle accident and then his son Beau from the devastating disease of cancer.
His engaging speech was genuine, not contrived:
“Each day, I receive a small card in my pocket that I carry with me in my schedule. It shows the number of Americans who have been infected by or died from Covid-19. Today, we mark a truly grim, heartbreaking milestone: 500,071 dead. That’s more Americans who have died in one year in this pandemic than in World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam War combined. That’s more lives lost to this virus than any other nation on Earth.” ~ Joe Biden
He speaks of the impact the virus has had on those who remain after the unnecessary deaths of their family members and friends and that it is essential that we hold them in our hearts and minds.
“As a nation, we cannot, and we must not let this go on. That’s why the day before my inauguration, at the Covid-19 Memorial at the Reflecting Pool on the National Mall, I said to heal, we must remember. I know it’s hard. I promise you, I know it’s hard – I remember. But that’s how you heal: You have to remember. And it’s also important to do that as a nation.” ~ Joe Biden
I witness, on a daily basis, the effects of spending the past year in some form of lockdown for children and adults.
As a therapist who offers telehealth sessions, I hear stories of increased depression, anxiety, and an uptick in alcohol consumption. I hear stories of shutting down feelings since it is too overwhelming to contemplate their current circumstances.
Some project out to the possibility that it may take many more months before things settle down to some sense of normalcy. I remind them that they have made it this far and have developed coping strategies that they can continue to practice. We come up with new ones each session. I also encourage them to plant imagery in their minds of how they want their lives to be post-pandemic.
Seeing all of this unfolding, I reinforce the necessity of staying vigilant with safety and health protocol, not the time to get lax.
>> I feel anger when I would much prefer to experience peace.
>> I feel anger at people who dismiss the dire threat it poses.
>> I feel anger at the previous administration, which was complicit in the spread of the virus.
>> I feel anger at those who peddle conspiracy theories about it.
>> I feel anger at those who deny science. I feel anger at those who put profit before health and safety.
>> I feel anger at those who attend superspreader social events.
>> I feel anger at those who act as if it is a major inconvenience to mask up (all the way up, not just hanging out on their chins).
Even if you don’t know anyone yet who has been impacted, chances are, you will. I pray that the numbers of deaths recede. I pray that the numbers of diagnosed cases go down. I pray all throughout the day for the safety of those I know and love and all those they know and love and so on and so on…
If we do all we are capable of doing, when this is over, and we can return to gathering with family and friends, hugging, attending social events, movies, concerts, sporting events, graduations, celebrations, and sadly, as life has it anyway, funerals, we will have done an honor for those who didn’t make it to the other side of the pandemic.