The death toll is rising. And people in my communities are lying to themselves about its lethality. They lie from ignorance. From fear. Living in a deep state of denial and hopeless despair.
The ones who aren’t lying share memes and try to be informed and they are wearing masks. Trying to do everything, to get everything right.
It’s heartbreaking to watch.
For me, it’s not the deep tragedy of the dying. Which I see. I feel. But it’s not what wrenches my soul.
I’m steeped in death. I know its grip. I know its measure. Death is the brother who walks beside me. Waiting to embrace me when I end.
We all end.
What brings tears to my eyes is all of the people who haven’t been had to form bonds with death. Who are lost and can’t see past this. They keep looking for the mythic safety. The mythic future. And set themselves up to burn out. To collapse. They keep celebrating momentary triumph. And each time tragedy steals back that triumph they break a little bit more.
They are not in a place where they can hear what I would say.
So I’ll say it here. For whoever is still listening.
Life exists in the small moments of joy. It is only in the ever present now that we are. That is the only place you can be in for now. Listen to music contrary to a bleak mood. Turn off the news as much as possible, their job is to sell fear.
Once you have done all that you can. Let the rest go. It’s extremely difficult to acknowledge the lack of control. But try anyway.
And to the Nurses and Doctors and other Healthcare professionals, I know you’ve been taught that you save lives. That is where your heart is.
But what you really do is give people more time. Sometimes there is no time left. Sometimes that’s another hour. Sometimes it’s the rest of their life.
You are burning yourselves up, trying to win an unwinnable war. You can’t change the battle. So you must change the objective.
I know how unhelpful this feels. Let it sit with you. It’s a hard lesson to learn.
You roll the dice
Walking around hoping
Laughing and drinking
You fell ill but you were dine
What’s the big deal
Go to work
Scratch your face
Cough lightly on the water fountain
You feel fine after a few days
You hear that Kev in marketing who sometimes flirts with you is home sick
No worries he’s young
He bounces back and is in his cubicle the next week
You hear his grandmother is sick
You pray for her
But you know it’s not something you did
How could it?
You’ve been ok for a few weeks
A week passes and more people on the floor are going home sick
That Kev really gets around
Then you hear Kev is out again
Sick? You ask
No, his grandmother passed, the poor dear
Thats awful you say but she lived a full life
You watch the news and hear that this thing might be serious but the president says in a few weeks everything will be back to normal
He must know, though that doctor kept butting in
Another week and people can work from home but only if management approves
No one wants to be the one who abandons ship so you all stay
You see that a local retirement home has a bunch of cases and a couple more deaths
Couldn’t be your fault
You here Kev is back and his eyes are puffy from crying
He’s taking this very hard but then you hear his grandfather is sick and his father is on a ventilator
His family is having a hard time
But the country will be fine by April, right?
Living in a tragedy gets old. Dystopian elections of battered hopes where men fall prey to honest ignorance and are pulled to pieces drowning out the message. Each rally set outside of an election year calls to mind another authoritarian in black and white; a dead mans message of terror spread out to the stars propagating at light speed. Years pass and life continues with battles and fights to hold on. With love and a renewed hopefulness and the crush of long distances. To hear her voice, to watch her dance in joy. Then a waking from a dream and a virus wreaks havoc, exposing the flaws in logic more boldly than a hundred hours of documentary and late night talk shows. But still conspiracy conspiracy conspiracy they whisper and while I speak only in shadows and darkness still my heart remains because of she’s there. Hair wet symphonies and silence. Driving to work for a company who has tenuous grasp on reality but the commute is short. Trying to convince aging parents to take this seriously but hearing Fox news reach up their spine and spout false talking points. Despair but with rapid eye twitches from lack of sleep. Still…I’m not dead yet. Time enough for love and joy. Death is coming and that’s no lie. But he is my brother. I know him well. And I am not afraid.
The sky weeps for the passing of beauty
Ripped from this world by terror
Asleep in the belief of safety
But waking in pain
Looking into the face of one’s god
Pleading for succor
But there are limits on us all
And so we weep
And the brothers who hunt the land eternal
Rage as sight is blurred and torn from us
Stand vigil in the windswept madness
Of a pain
I am removed from what is real
A bound ghost inhabiting empty halls once filled with pain
Echoing fading laughter bounces against the dark deeply stained wood paneled walls
The glimpse of running and the slight thumps
Too quick out the corner of the eye
Heart threads faster
In the empty quiet
Watching my girls play is the best part of my day. I spend time thinking about them. Wondering why I keep working. Why I keep taking ops. Why I keep doing this thing I do?
And then I remember. I remember the faces. The smiles. The jokes. The sorrow filled faces looking back at me, knowing that there isn’t anything left to do but die. My people.
I can lie to myself and pass them off as employees. As people who made choices. But at the end of the day, I’m the one responsible. I took the contract. I sent them into harms way. And I’m the reason they died.
People will say it’s the person who planted the bomb, pulled the trigger, or plunged the blade. And they’re right. They’re right. But it’s not a zero sum equation. And my choices, my intel, my signature on some piece of paper sent them careening into the path of the bullet and nothing I do makes up for that.
But what I can do is take care of their families. Take care of their legacies. And make better decisions in the future. But I can’t do that without money. And I can’t do that without resources. And really, this is the only life I know. So I take my joys where I can.
Take my girls and give them the chance at safety and joy and love. All while I know, my men and women are executing orders and placing themselves one step closer to that final sleep.
Sometimes the responsibility hits you out of nowhere. The crushing weight, briefly unbearable
Until something lifts you up.
Tara’s impish smile and Sara’s brazen grin. And the nods of the guards. Who know what happens when I go too quiet and my gaze slips distant. And remind me, life doesn’t stop. Best get to it.
We are planets
orbiting a star
Which has winked out
We dance and spin
We see each other in passing
Linked by tenuous thread
Sunk in the gravity well
Day by day we grow cold
Heated only from within
And those brief words
Each creating friction
Enough to make another hour
Last I love you’s
We’ll never hear again
Making us safe
Making us home
Deep hearts cooling
In the long dark
Calling for response
Longer and longer
It’s all I have
And still I avoid it
I feel the pain of waking
And my heart hurting
Hours pass until exhaustion
Until it’s too late
The world is spinning
The day starts
They don’t see
They look at me
Acting like they care
Can’t believe them
So easy to lie
So easy to see
The thing is
I give chances out of the gate
I trust until trust is broken
But broken once
It’s never repaired
Reforged links are never as strong
But here I am putting off what might have saved me
Instead walk in
Wondering if I can save me
But I never have before
Instead lost in my own way
Stumbling for hearts too distant to see me
We run through the darkness
Hoping for light
But when it comes we find our way blind
Making the mistake that sends us back to its lack
They say you have to save yourself
But if I could I would have
I’m just a whispered memory
Lost in false reverie
Fueled by a pain too ephemeral to be embraced
Mounting higher until we break
Funny how it’s all about the money
Spent to survive, to get through the days
Until we break and what’s left?
To walk away
To die starving
Or embrace the eternal dark
The last home
When all other sanctuary is lost