A friend and colleague was brutally murdered three years ago, along with four other journalists at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis. Her death was a shock. The entire community mourned. She didn’t go down without a fight, witnesses saw her confront the gunman, attempting to stave off the execution style attack on the victims, but she died anyway. And we remembered Wendi Winters and kept living.
Less than a year later, another writer friend died unexpectedly. Also a friend of Wendi’s, Carolyn Sullivan had just completed revisions on a historical novel she’d been researching, and it seemed particularly cruel of fate to take her out of this world before she had the chance to pursue its publication. Her death was also a shock, but I consoled myself with the knowledge that at least her death had not been violent. And we remembered Carolyn and kept living.
Since January 2020, 4.35 million people have died in the world from Covid-19, 620,000 in the United States. As I write this, the number keeps increasing. How does one grieve the loss of so many people? Even if I don’t personally know all those people who have died, the numbers are staggering and the effect on the psyche of their families has to have repercussions on our planet.
For the death of Wendi, there is someone to blame. A deranged man out for revenge decided to kill whoever was in the Capital Gazette offices that day. He will be punished for his crimes.
But who can I blame for some of those hundreds of thousands of deaths from Covid-19? Viruses happen all the time, bad ones every hundred or so years. But it is how we handle the onset of a pandemic as a society that determines how many of us will survive.
Sometimes it is just bad luck, being in the wrong place at the wrong time when a drunk driver slams into your car or statistical chance if a member of your family is ravaged by heart disease or cancer. If you are a religious person, you’ll say it is the will of God.
But then there are the choices we make. The choices to care about those with whom we share this earth. Decency. Kindness. Doing everything in your power to keep you family, neighbors, and community safe means following public health protocols. Deciding not to wear a mask because it makes your face sweat, or avoiding the vaccine because it might give you a bad headache—are shabby excuses when people continue to die. And the people who are dying in the United States now are the ones who decided not to get vaccinated.
Death will arrive at our doorstep sooner or later, but we owe it to one another to protect our community from unjust death. Now that we have the knowledge on how the Coronavirus is spread, primarily through respiration, we should be wearing masks when prudent and keeping current on our vaccinations.
It’s not a question of politics, it’s a question of life and death.
Read Nadja’s latest piece of fiction, “The Perfect Picture” and follow her on Twitter at SN Maril.