Worrying and being angry about COVID-19 has become my part-time job. I’m trying to keep it under control, but as the death rate climbs in the US, so does my rage and fear. The talk of schools opening now, or within weeks, or in September, is also fueling my rage. The pandemic is not under control, so why are we reopening schools?
I know it’s complicated. There’s the economy, and people’s livelihoods, and some children aren’t safe at home. But this is a life or death issue. I know that most people who contract it DON’T get seriously ill or die, but is it worth the risk? How much is your life worth? Infants have died; children have died; young adults have died. There is no guarantee here. I’m wondering if people need to lose a loved one before they understand the gravity of this situation.
My partner, Allen, and I understand the gravity of this situation. His friend Patricia’s illness and death of COVID were horrific. We rode a roller coaster for weeks, and once her family decided to have her taken off life support, we waited weeks for her to die. I wrote the following while we were waiting.
We are waiting for you to die.
One of Allens’s dearest friends, you are dying of COVID-19. You are intubated on your second day in the hospital. During your 18-day stay in the ICU, we spend each mentally excruciating day inquiring about your status; researching Remdesivir, proning, ventilators, and ICU delirium; yearning to hold your hand and play your favorite post-punk music; wishing we could talk to you and encourage you to fight.
We go through the what ifs and the whys, although we keep saying that this is a futile endeavor. The doctors try three times to extubate you. You have good days and bad days. Until the 19th day, when cautious hope slips through our fingers and is replaced with gripping grief. Your family decides to have you taken off the ventilator after they were told that you would probably not recover.
“She could go anytime,” the hospice doctor says. Three weeks later, you are not with us, but you are not yet gone. Our grief process is on an awkward, maddening pause. I don’t know what to do while we wait for you to die.
I seethe with anger as you die alone without family and friends to guide you through. Our only consolation is the fact that you knew how much we loved you. But the solace is fleeting. Would you have been one of the 36,000 Americans spared if this country had taken the virus more seriously weeks earlier? You don’t deserve this. The other 122,000+ victims don’t deserve this.