2020 – Pandemic…

My birthmother, Lee, died on July 8th. I wasn’t there at her side. No one, save amazing medical personnel, was with her. Welcome to America 2020.

After she was born in August of 1934, she spent a year and a half in a Depression orphanage, one of those rooms filled with cribs where people would walk through and pick out a child, like a puppy farm. I was in awe she could survive it – to be alone for that long, without a forever family. That she then died alone seems particularly cruel. I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about it.

My sister Sue donned hazmat gear and went in to be with her the week before she died. She stroked her hair and joked with her. But it wasn’t very intimate. No skin on skin. No kiss on the cheek or holding of hands. Lee bore twelve babies and eight survived to adulthood. We lost Bobby, but she deserved to have her seven remaining children in a circle around her, her 15 grandchildren and 14 great grandchildren, too. Thirty-seven of us in all (so far) exist on planet Earth because of her. We didn’t get to say goodbye – and she didn’t have us holding her hand.

She had Covid-19. I don’t know if that’s what killed her, but I do know it’s because of Covid-19 that she died alone. It didn’t have to be this way. I will feel forever sad – and guilty even – that I wasn’t there. It’s a story that’s being lived by thousands of people, millions if they have family’s the size of mine.

The pandemic is like 9-11. It’s too big to get our arms around it. There is too much sadness and fear and devastation, and there are too many stories,  – and each one is important. I am simply aghast that the USA, my country, sweet land of liberty and all, with all the resources at our disposal, with the education we’ve invested in for our citizens, with the hard work our parents and grandparents did over their lifetimes, struggling through the Depression, two world wars, and my generation let this happen? It’s disgusting. Shameful. All people had to do is wash their hands and wear a mask. Was that so much to ask?

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