Dispatch from my couch, where I’ve been sleeping for 10 days.
My son and husband have COVID and my daughter and I do not. I would describe their cases as mild, but when I listen to my son retch and vomit and moan in pain, mild feels like a euphemism for ‘not dead’. My husband lies to his family and says he’s fine, but admitted to me he’s forcing food down and finds it hard to breath in the morning. Okay, cool. How about you tell me the truth and we wade in the filth of this disease together? Even if I can’t touch you, I am with you.
There’s so much talk about how the pandemic has reminded us of the value of being home, the benefit of fewer cars on the road, the beauty of spending more time with family, the horror of watching loved ones die on FaceTime and the heroism of the doctors and nurses who held that loved one’s hand. Frontline workers are heroes, and we can find meaning in suffering. But I’m not interested in silver linings because silver linings are bullshit. The kid who can’t go to school and whose grandmother died and whose mom was on a ventilator does not live in that silver lining, she lives in a hellscape of historic proportion. She might grow up understanding life better than her peers, but then again she might grow up addicted to opioids because her pain is too great to bear.
I think about that family of 7 in New Jersey, they all got COVID, and 4 of them died. An entire family. There is no silver lining or Instagram filter for that. No, let’s not reduce their suffering to New Age tropes and feel good memes. It’s horrible and awful, and we need not make it better. Shit can exist and just be shit.
The months have been years, this week has been decades. When COVID comes home, it’s no longer the thing you read about or think is a hoax or the no big deal that will disappear or something that only happens to others. COVID doesn’t agree with the anti-maskers and COVID is fucking scary. Its symptoms zig and zag, disappear then return with ferocity.
On Monday I walked the dogs and Instacarted the food and wiped the doorknobs and checked my husband’s pulse ox and listened to my son’s retching and vomiting and moaning in pain. But I also did that on Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday, so maybe it didn’t happen on Monday. Who knows, really?
Wednesday was the day I got good news about a movie I wrote, but Wednesday was also the day I realized I hadn’t changed my underwear since Monday. I needed to do better than that. I mean, I could do better than that, right? I wasn’t sure.
This week I binged watched ‘Call My Agent’ and had conversations in my head in French c’est fou, ca! escaping any way I could. I counted the nights I had been sleeping on the couch and texting goodnight to my husband in our bedroom down the hall and I stayed awake imagining rubbing my son’s back as he lay suffering on the bathroom floor.
COVID is exhausting. We’re all exhausted and by all I don’t mean my family, although we are. Americans. It exhausts us. I’m grateful it is not worse and we have health insurance. But I’m not willing to deduce the past 15 days of my life or the past 8 months of all of ours to bullshit feel good jargon.
Watching last night’s Presidential debate from my couch that is now my bed and hearing Donald Trump lie repeatedly about all things COVID was enraging. We deserve better than what he’s slinging because at minimum, at the barest minimum, we deserve the truth. We deserve leaders who do everything they can to keep us safe and are honest with us about their limitations.
This morning the President hosted close to 50 people in the Oval Office and no Trump officials wore masks. For fuck’s sake, how is that a thing? No, really, how is that a thing? Didn’t they read Chris Christie’s op-ed in the Wall Street Journal? “There is no safe zone from this virus.” THERE IS NO SAFE ZONE.
We got lax and allowed one person into our house without a mask, and that person had been lax and saw one person without a mask and now 7 people I know have the Coronavirus. Because we didn’t wear a mask. Once.
Last night Donald Trump said we are “rounding a corner” with COVID. Today, October 23, 2020, the United States surpassed the single-day record for new virus cases set in July — ten months since they discovered the first American COVID case. THAT IS INSANE. For God’s sake, a woman can create, carry, and birth a human being in less time than that.
Enough with the rugged individualism. We need each other. We need to love our neighbors and value their lives and respect that not everyone’s COVID will be mild and wow, why is it late October and we are still talking about this?
All this to say, when COVID comes home, even in the mildest of cases, it is a bear, a brute, a force to be reckoned with and respected.
So please. Just wear a mask. And save the memes for Mother’s Day. This shit is real.