He saved my letters to him, in a medium Priority Mail box, ten years worth, and as Dad aged and travelled less and less, I would send off some gossipy message at least once a month. Hate to admit it, but it will take me a week to empty that box. And these days, after two months in quarantine, I am finally making time to write more letters to the living, so I’ll be putting that off, again. I am surprised that it took this long to put pen to paper, but the envelopes are going out this week. Here is what I shouldn’t say in these cheery missives, but has been weighing on me – I probably would have told Dad, he understood me when I had those dark days, but he died in 2017, just two days after I had flown to Florida to arrange his stay in the care facility. As soon as he got better, we were going to move him out with us to Hawaii, so he died knowing he was loved.
The colors of a pandemic are all muted, the days are covered with a gauzy film of desperation. I guess the part that is most dreadful is knowing hundreds of thousands of people are taking their last breath in colorless rooms where kind cloth covered strangers hold phones to their faces so the family members who would have smoothed their hair and held their hands helplessly speak through gnat sized speakers and the only sound sent is the rhythmic cush-cush of ventilating machines. A small meaningful thing, repeated a hundred more times as this disease drowns their patients from the inside.
And I am guiltily grateful that my parents are already dead, and that I was there within days of their passing. I can’t imagine saying goodbye to them at the hospital entrance, my words muffled by a mask, because only the strong are coming back out.
It’s hard enough for intubate -tees to communicate, just the eyes, just the hands. How can we calm their night terrors now?