It’s just before dawn when I go out to get the paper wondering, “Is this the COVID-19 missile that will pierce our defenses?” For days, even after we knew the virus was here, I didn’t wonder, didn’t think about it. Now I get my Clorox wipe ready. After wiping down the bag, I slip the paper into the microwave, sterilize my hands, and start the water boiling for some French-press decaf. When the paper comes out of the microwave it’s wrinkled, a bit like I am, and there’s a faint smell of overdone that reminds me of the way we have overdone our exploitation of Mother Earth’s gifts.
Then, despite knowing better, I begin to read. It’s my husband’s paper. Mine’s online. I wouldn’t order it, but here it is, and my curiosity, my naïve hope that news of “flattening,” will be the front-page story overwhelms my better judgment. It’s not. Of course not. That’s when the tears begin to well up in my eyes. I feel as though I should stop trying to tighten my throat and hold them back, that I should just let the dam burst. But I don’t. I have a dog and a husband who would worry. So, I hold it in, tears just on the edge of the lower lids, and I pour my decaf. I can cry later, in the park, where the grief will evaporate into the generosity of the statuesque trees or sink into the blue-platter ponds filled with spring bird parties.
I’m healthy and fed and blessed beyond what a vast majority of the world could ever imagine. But there’s so much pain, so much worry, so much death that’s cratered huge holes in the fabric of the lives left.
In the ‘70s, my husband, my son, Tim, and I lived the life of “at will” employees balanced on the high wire of food service jobs in the ski industry. In Tim’s first year, the always-reliable Utah snow didn’t materialize, and there were no snow-making machines to fill the gap. We sat in employee housing helplessly watching the weather, praying for snow because there was nothing else we could do. We had no power, just as we have no real power against this virus. We got lucky. The night before Tim’s dad was going to be laid off, it snowed.
But now there are millions of people for whom the snow is not coming. For those of us who have been lucky, it’s time to step up, to do more than cry and write. It’s time to reconsider how we live, to question our consumption of Mother Earth’s bounty, a bounty we have exploited to produce things that we don’t need and often find we don’t even want. And it’s time to be generous in every way we possibly can – in spirit, in empathy, in love, in gratitude, and in money.
There are so many organizations who can use your help, but here are a couple of ideas if you need them: