These are some crazy times. I keep thinking of sitting down to write something, anything, but then I never do. So much is going on and my thoughts are like the pollen floating through the air in this city I call home. I wonder if the thoughts, like the pollen, will land some place worthwhile. I wonder a lot.

Someday someone will write the story of how, in 2020, there was a pandemic that overtook the world. And the readers will wonder and marvel at the ignorance of some, and the sheer fierceness of others. They will look at photos with captions about how the playgrounds at the community park were closed, but families still could be found with their children climbing on the playground equipment and swinging on the swings. Or they will read about the church that refused to stop having services. Putting so many at risk. Will they also read of the people who reached out to one another in this time of need, or the medical staff, all the hospital staff, who kept working day by day knowing that they might be the next one taken down by this virus? I will purchase that book when it comes out, but I may not read it.

To think this all could have been, not prevented perhaps, but knocked down to a much lesser degree. So many people have lost their lives to this—so many more will. I take issue every time someone tallies up another death using the words; they had underlying conditions. It bothers me more and more. Let’s put it this way. If the virus hadn’t been able to take such a stronghold, all those with underlying conditions would still be here. They would be alive. Their families would not be in shock, trying to wrap their heads around how something like this could happen. Let’s never lose sight of that fact. This didn’t have to happen.

We have experienced epic failure by our government. It isn’t the people in the United States who failed in this; it is our government who failed all of us by not being prepared. And we will never be ready as long as we value money more than lives. For preparation, we would have to stockpile needed items waiting for the possibility of a time of mass crisis. Such preparedness would cost money and require an ongoing investment. Investments in a place to store the items, in the things themselves, and in the workers who need to be in charge of rotating stock and keeping track of the assets. If everything works the way it should, we won’t need all those stockpiled supplies, all the masks or ventilators, or other protective gear. But that means we are putting money into something without getting an instant monetary return on the investment. And it might happen for the next few years that we do just this. But then someone in government will decide it is a waste of money or a waste of resources because money is always worth more than people.

I work in a hospital, an inner city hospital with level one trauma care, supporting a variety of computer/software/who knows what items and people. Seriously, I support people too. It is not in my job description to be sure. But the stories I could tell which were told to me… I never tell those stories. But I always sit down and listen to the person telling them. I always listen.

This past Friday, I was in the ER, and it felt so unnerving to me. It’s March, and the ER was full. Usually, that thing does not happen until May when the Trauma season begins. Trauma season is when people get out and try to do chores such as tree trimming or cutting the grass (and running over their foot) or driving fast, enjoying the weather, and then ending up in the ER with injuries. Friday, when I was in the ER, I saw machines labeled non corona use and some people in masks and most with no protective gear. I saw people putting their lives at risk to help those in need and still laughing and smiling. I miss the days where I would think the worst thing I needed to look out for was blood trails leading into the ER. Or the unknown bodily fluid trail. I have washed my hands so much and used so much hand sanitizer I wonder about long-term effects. I am aware, constantly aware, that all these people who I work with, some I have worked with for the past eight years, are all in danger. And that we may put others in danger without knowing it. It is now mandatory to have our temperature taken each day using a no contact thermometer. I warily check the results each time.

We are practicing social distancing here in this state where I live. Our Governor holds a press conference each day to tell us we will get through this. He says it will be hard, and it will get worse. The Governor is losing his voice, and no longer wears a tie or sport coat. Most days, he wears a button-down shirt and jeans. The Governor has closed everything except essential businesses. We can get delivery or carryout from restaurants. Grocery stores are still open. The liquor stores are open. I guess that is an important business. Schools closed two weeks ago. No one knows when the end will be in sight. What we know is, if we don’t take make changes now, more people will suffer.

Let’s be a good neighbor and stay six feet apart as Andy Says.

“The smell of hospitals in winter
And the feeling that it’s all a lot of oysters, but no pearls
All at once you look across a crowded room
To see the way that light attaches to a girl”

-Counting Crows

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