It happened on an evening last week. It was the first time I had been hugged in too long to count. My BFF and I had been practicing social distancing since mid-March.
Both of us are nurses.
Both of us have underlying health issues that make us high-risk.
Neither one of us is a fool.
On this night- this visit was different. For over a month now, the governor has been allowing Humans to roam freely about the state. NC is quite firmly settled into Phase 2 of our state’s #reopen plan.
My hospital’s statistics are higher now than they were at the ‘peak’ of “The Curve” and rising. Sharply. No one seems too concerned over that. I guess once the body count got over 100K the overwhelm factor kicked in and that was that.
Humans can only tolerate so much death and devastation before denial and other coping mechanisms kick in to protect the psyche.
Or perhaps the next ‘big’ news story hit. And COVID was left to its own devices. Rather like the “kids in cages”, “the war on terror”, or any other horrible thing still happening in our world that the bright and shiny has worn off as far as Fox/CNN/MSNBC are concerned.
Those “stories” have ceased to hold our attention and as such, have stopped generating cash flow to the mass media machine. Time to move on.
But make no mistake — All. The. Things. are still out there. Still needing to be seen and recognized and attended to. Those wounds are still open gashes in the fabric of our Humanity. They just aren’t media money makers anymore.
Our society is awash with neglect and outright violence. Against a lot of Humans who did nothing in Life to deserve the treatment they receive at the hands of those sworn to serve and protect. The governments, the police, the military, the healthcare system.
So — I needed that hug. And so did she. Because this is far from over. We are only just getting started.
The actions against protestors by police forces using chemical irritants were so counterproductive to containment of COVID that it should have been in and of itself considered criminal. Biological warfare against municipalities and the healthcare system. It is now up to Karma as to whether or not those same officers will suffer COVID infections from the consequences of this violent behavior. Stay tuned…news updates at 11. Or maybe not?
As nurses, my friend and I have watched our patients die from COVID. Humans we spoke with and cared for are no longer with us on this earth. We know exactly what their journey into the arms of Azrael looked like. It’s all there in their medical records and it is not reading for the faint of heart.
So last week — we collapsed into each other’s arms. Near tears with relief to be held by another Human who understood. Physical as well as emotional support in the heat of a battle in a war no one is interested in any longer.
The Humans “out there” — the ones gathering, the ones throwing chemical irritants, the ones not wearing masks, the ones insisting on everything reopening as if more Humans than ever are not being hospitalized and dying — will not care.
As I write this 114,000 lives have been sacrificed to COVID in this country alone. Since March. Children are dying of COVID — usually of a meningitis -related presentation. A seven-year-old girl died in my area died just last week. She was the same age as one of my granddaughters.
But by all means — let’s pretend we’re all ok. That everything is now ok. That this has magically gone away now that the temperatures have hit the 90’s.
Yes. We both needed that hug.
Because more of our patients are going to die. And we are going to be the only Humans that will care about that. We will be the only Humans who don’t see the color of the skin of our patients, but we will understand that our patients who are not white die at roughly three times the rate than those who are. So when we look at the names of our dead patients, all we can think of is this.
Those #Blacklivesmatter too. Tens of thousands of them. Everyone who has died. Everyone who will die. The world is an emptier place for every soul Azrael has taken home. The wisdom, the love, the potential — all gone.
One hundred-fourteen thousand lives. And counting.
I’m going to be needing more of those hugs. I’m pretty sure.