The hardest thing about the impact of the COVID-19 virus for me is not the sheltering at home or the lack of social interaction or the uncertainty about getting the virus. What haunts me is thinking about the poor souls who are hospitalized, cut off from the people who love them. These people die alone and their loved ones lose them without the opportunity to offer or receive the love, forgiveness, kindness and a proper goodbye that a dying loved one deserves.
I feel the obscenity of this isolated death keenly because I lost my mother in mid-March. During Mom’s last days the restrictions on nursing home visits were tightening but fortunately we were able to still spend the night in her room, hold her hand, kiss her, talk to her, listen to her, calm her, get her what she needed from staff, feed her, give her water, bring her a Taco Bell taco or a Pepsi. She died surrounded by love.
Yes, there are attendants showing compassion to those dying of COVID-19, and they are angels in their own way, but tender family love is not replaced by masked compassion however kind.
COVID-19 is still spreading in the United States and a second cousin in Canada died of it last week. She lived in a nursing home.
But we don’t know who has the virus or doesn’t because there is no testing available to the majority of us, unless we’re rich, powerful, or otherwise well-connected. I tried to get a test last week and I was told that since I am judged to be “asymptomatic” I can’t get tested. The doctor explained there simply are not enough tests to test people without symptoms; this in spite of the president’s declaration that, “Anyone who wants a test can get a test.” A statement more dangerously false than most of what he utters.
The inability of the US Government to design and deploy a testing program in time and with expertise and professionalism is confounding, maddening, discouraging, frustrating and inexcusable. Germany did it, South Korea did it.
Dr. Anthony Faucci tells us from his perch at the National Institutes of Health that asymptomatic people can also be infected and spread the disease. So it logically follows that we must be able to test everyone in order to get back to work and control this disease.
On cable news each night, the mounting Corona virus death toll is reported. I watch this morbid but necessary act of counting and I am drawn back in time to the Vietnam War when the nightly news reported the daily death toll of Americans and Viet Cong. I didn’t understand death as a kid, it was just numbers on the screen, but as an adult my empathy is wrung dry by the absolute awfulness of these families cheated by nature of a chance to say goodbye.
© Copyright 2020, D.E.L.