I know some people wonder if this virus is for real, but I was surprised to receive a letter from a friend declaring, “Enough already; let’s trust in God and get back to work!”
I’m sure we are all familiar with compassion fatigue by now. Even in places that have been hit hard. But to insist that things return to normal is to turn a blind eye to suffering.
To some, numbers are meaningless. But, in case it’s useful, to date of this writing, the City of Cambridge has reported 1,094 people infected with coronavirus...and 97 deaths. Months ago, when I sent the following pleading email to a friend in a lesser affected area, the numbers were smaller.
To those who wonder whether we should take precautions against this virus, consider my experience in Cambridge, a city that has suffered, yet suffering much less than many others during this time. I also share this knowing that my story is a privileged one -- that of a family able to self-quarantine while maintaining income and physical health during this time.
I know you as a person of faith, so before I forget, I wanted to pass along a link to a printable book (that your kids can color). A friend sent this link to me. It's by a Cambodian writer who is trying to educate kids about coronavirus and how we can focus on Jesus as we keep others healthy.
When I first started hearing about coronavirus, I got in touch with my friends who have family in China and Iran. They said their families were okay, thank goodness. Then, a neighborhood dad suggested quietly that we start stocking up on non-perishables. I figured I'd get around to that once I got through my kids’ birthday party...and a bunch of other stuff I had going on.
Then it got bad in Italy. And they closed schools here on March 13th and closed playgrounds on March 17th. And I was asking my Italian friend how her sick friend in Bergamo was doing. And I was seeing grocery shelves absolutely bare and worried about how I was going to feed my family. And my husband worried about getting sick and being out of commission when he was in the middle of a job transition. And I worried about how I was going to implement school structure at home so my kids wouldn't fall behind when my kids were completely balking at the idea of me as their teacher.
And then the first person in Cambridge died. And then people in their 40s died. And each of us wondered if we would be next.
And then friends who are healthcare workers got pulled away from their usual jobs to work with COVID patients, placing themselves and their families at risk. I mean, oncologists working as internists? We have heard of the hospitals being at max, of auxiliary locations being at max.
I pronounced 20 patients during my one year medical/surgical internship. And it completely wrecked me mentally. I can only imagine the grief and overwhelm that the healthcare workers in Massachusetts feel as they pronounce 150 people DAILY. I understand why the physician in NYC killed herself. 3000 deaths a day?! Morgues in the street?
I understand the situation is different where you live. I regret that this is yet ONE MORE divide in our already far too divided country. I couldn't sleep last night thinking about your perspective.
Yes, we have all had our purpose in life derailed. Yes, we are all angry. Yes, we all want to get back to normal.
But we aren't not trusting in God. Our church closed its doors before it was ordered to because we wanted to protect the most vulnerable around us. We didn't close out of fear but out of love for our neighbors.
Everyone who has work is working harder than ever before as they try to adapt to this work at home situation. Everyone who doesn't have work is....well, I hope they are all right. I really hope they get some assistance. I know our city is trying to provide multiple outlets of assistance to those struggling.
I still can't get everything I want at the grocery store. I shop every two weeks and hope it lasts.
But I'm not afraid of dying anymore. I never really was. But I was afraid of giving the virus to someone else and having to live with that. And so many people I know either have pronounced someone dead of the disease, have witnessed illness close up or from afar, or are similarly afraid for their frail loved ones. There have been 55 deaths in my city.
We don't know the mortality rate. That is clear. But we do know this virus has killed very quickly. We have tried not to overwhelm our hospitals but our medical workers are overwhelmed.
And I need to know that this is worth it -- this sacrifice we're all making. There's no way to go back in time and keep the schools open and put our senior citizen aged teachers at risk and wonder how it would have turned out. We have to believe that we did the right thing, trying to protect everyone.
It's now illegal to leave the house without a mask in my state. It's extremely inconvenient. I have been grieving and angry and a terrible parent and teacher for my kids. I have been a terrible wife. But then we come back together as a family and read "King COVID and the King Who Cares" and we think about why we are doing this, who we are doing it for.
I trust in God to get us through. I trust that he will give the scientists wisdom to create a vaccine to let us continue to function. I trust that he will bring people to him during this time.
I understand it's really hard to see this as anything but inconvenient when you don't know people on the front lines. And, as in so many areas, I wish we could do a better job of drawing sympathy for the hurting...whether they are hurting from COVID...or from hunger or from unemployment or illegal immigration or any other hurt in life.
Is this violating the Constitution? I don't know, but I have felt like this is an emergency situation. We're all frustrated that it's becoming apparent that no one knows how to get us out of this situation. That is really hard.
I just screamed at my family repeatedly before I sat down to write this. Is that the cost of this pandemic? Will we rise above that? I am suffocating from lack of space.
But some people, hundreds daily, are suffocating from COVID.
Who am I to put them at risk?
With God's help, I can do this.
Here you will find a catalog of my writing and reflections.