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As I write this essay, I don’t even know if I’m going to post it. I only know my heart is aching and I can’t make the pain go away. It’s one thing to know that Americans are suffering due to their fear of Covid-19 and the propaganda that has been promoted throughout this country; it’s another to see a friend suffering from a fear that she is unwilling or unable to overcome.
I have known this woman for more than ten years. She is a Leftie. We learned a long time ago that there is no point in discussing politics. She is smart and sweet and is a down-to-earth person in so many ways. She developed a wonderful program to help children learn to read by bringing dogs into the learning process. And she’s been a good friend.
Since she’s a snowbird and currently living in Chicago, we’ve been practicing a physical movement series together through What’s App. Abiding by our original understanding, we haven’t discussed politics or Covid-19. But today, for me, something cracked open.
She is returning to Florida in a couple of weeks and asked me an odd question: was there a way to check on the internet at any given time whether emergency rooms and/or ICU beds were open at a hospital? I had to ask her to explain what she was asking, and then her query became clearer: if she had to be hospitalized with Covid-19, could she check which hospitals had space?
My brain felt as if it had been flooded by a dense fog. I then dipped into dangerous territory and asked her if she was getting news on the virus from any place other than MSNBC or CNN. She didn’t answer. I told her that nationally, the percentage of deaths was going down. She responded that wasn’t true. (I suspect she was thinking of the number of cases.) Then she said that North Dakota and Wisconsin, where she has family, were in bad shape, and I asked her what she meant. She said that five students had caught the virus and they were shutting down the school. I then buried myself when I asked if anyone had died. She flippantly answered that she didn’t think so. At that moment, I knew I had misstepped.
I quickly suggested that we not go there in the conversation. She agreed and we moved on to our practice. I had a difficult time concentrating, and although we were cordial when we finished, I felt the small crack that had emerged between us.
So, I’m stumbling under a swirl of emotions: disbelief, anger, sorrow. I know that part of my resistance to her state is my own frustration with dealing with the victimization of others. How can a person choose to be a victim? How can a person who is technologically adept not use her skills to get to the truth? How can a person who is naturally curious insist on wearing dark glasses rather than walking into the light?
I know. I know. People like her are everywhere. They choose suffering over information. They prefer living with the worst-case scenario rather than embracing possibility.
And there is nothing I can do to help—help her or anyone else.Published in