How was your summer? A friend asks a seemingly innocuous question and then it hits me, summer is over. Fall—as soon as the air in Maryland begins to turn crisp—is about to commence. And how was my summer? I ask myself. Sort of okay, nothing bad, but disappointing, I think. The build up towards the fourth of July was the promise that we’d all be able to relax, and have fun without worrying about getting sick. Instead, the Delta variant of the virus arrived and cases have surged.
Despite all the doses of vaccine available to all Americans, only 55% of the eligible population has bothered to become fully vaccinated. The others claim the possible mild side affects are enough of an excuse not to get the jab, even if it means they could possibly die or infect others who could be more vulnerable. It doesn’t matter to them, as long as they can pretend everything is okay and not pay attention to the numbers of people filling up hospital beds. The last time I checked the statistics, 674,000 Americans had died from Covid-19. As a result of the number of people in hospitals, elective surgeries have been postponed and medical care has been delayed or unavailable for people seeking care for medical emergencies that include strokes, heart attacks, and seizures.
At the very least, I’m of the opinion that those who make the choice not to get vaccinated (unless there is an actual medical reason why they are not a good candidate for inoculation) should bear the financial responsibility for their treatment, if and when they contract the virus. Currently the vast majority of people in the ICU’s are unvaccinated. Need I say more?
Stepping down off my soapbox, I have to remind myself there are things I have no control over and that I need to focus on what I can enjoy—the sounds of the birds calling to each other outside my window and the smell of fresh basil, mint, and rosemary growing in my garden.
I have been able to socialize with friends this summer; small dinner parties, not large gatherings. Each day I write something; a few sentences, an essay, a story, or a revision of a work in progress. Each day I read and listen to the work of other writers, discovering new voices and reconnecting with old ones. In the news is Sally Rooney’s newest novel, but I just finished her first—Normal People. Currently I’m enjoying Maggie O’Farrell’s novel, Hamnet. Skillfully O’Farrell transports the reader to the Elizabethan era and interweaves the stories of multiple characters in a compelling fashion that has me alternately breathing in the scent of lavender as well as the rotting stench of open sewage and death. The Bubonic Plague is one of the characters of the novel, which has me circling back to thinking about the way humans cope with disease.
Always it is easier to explain away what is unpleasant and disturbing. Plague? What plague? When death arrives in the 16th century or the 21st century, it cannot be ignored. Those of us who are doing our best to stay safe, and not accidentally infect others, keep up the good work. We will continue to do our best and enjoy what we can as we do our part to make the world a better place.