Unthinkable

The first headline I saw this morning: 1 million Americans dead of COVID.

I’ve tried not to think about it all day. It goes along with the other catastrophic headlines that I want to ignore these days: More Casualties in Russia’s War on Ukraine; Roe v Wade to be Overturned; Brush Fires Destroys 20 Homes, Earliest Fire Season Yet.

I have little mental space to hold these doom and gloom headlines; I’m plenty dark without spending time reading the words beneath them.

But the one I’m really not thinking about is that unfathomable number: one million.

When my dad died almost two years ago of COVID, the national death toll was just over 125,000, an appalling number to me way back then. Then we hit 500,00, around the time of the inauguration and the subsequent coup attempt.

People said we’d never hit that number, and those were the rational ones, not the idiots muttering that it was no worse than the flu and the vaccines were products of deep state mind control.

We did hit that number. And we’ll surpass it today.

What I’m not thinking about, what I can’t bring myself to think about, is that a million other families felt the desperation of not being able to stop this terrible virus from taking their loved one.

I can’t bear to think about the children and adults who lost their mothers and fathers, grandparents and friends. I can’t stop and think about the nurses and doctors who quit their jobs, or died during this pandemic, or the ones who are still miraculously showing up to work every day.

I can’t think about the teachers and the parents and the bus drivers and the bank tellers and the pharmacists and the undertakers and everyone who had to, and still have to, find ways to bear this tremendous pandemic burden.

When I saw that headline this morning, I floated a little away from my body. I thought about my dad, the fact that I still haven’t had a real funeral for him, or better yet, the big fiesta I wanted to, with all the people and food and music he loved.

I can’t even think about that yet. Because it’s still not safe for us to gather. And I still don’t want to catch or spread this virus.

And sometimes, that is all I can think about lately.

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