A couple of weeks ago, they began appearing. Brief, heart-wounded, heartfelt memoriams on Twitter. They note the passing of mothers, fathers, grandparents, kids. I began to screen capture some of them. I wasn’t sure why. Maybe it’s the lifelong storyteller and journalist in me, noting a cultural phenomenon as it appeared. Wondering about it. How do you grieve in a connected age? How do you note the passing from a pandemic of someone at whose side you likely cannot be as they die?
I am also pissed beyond words.
At the Trumpublican regime—for it is a regime, even if we’d like to believe its totemic chief is a dodo. That’s a dangerous assumption because he is a useful idiot. He is fed the illusion of power by the puppeteers whose real aim is the demolition of whatever stands in the way of oligarchic power and wealth-making without restriction, absent of human or communal kindness.
I am pissed beyond words at the casual manipulation of the ill-educated and the ill-informed, suckered into believing they are the Rosa Parks of quarantine injustice, because they can’t get a haircut or a sit-down burger at Applebees.
I am grieved at people having to memorialize—in 280 words or less—how their mother, their father, their loved one, died alone in a hospital ward. Probably clutching a smartphone or iPad in a desperate attempt to have their loved ones at their deathbed in at least a spectral form.
I am beyond anger at a so-called President incapable of empathy, desperate only to “win” the day’s new cycle. He’s a damaged man-child, aided, abetted and protected by some of American history’s worst political malefactors—Mitch McConnell, Bill Barr, Lyndsey Graham, and a political class of sellouts.
I don’t know why I made this video, except that it was something to do with these lousy feelings of helplessness. I maybe made it, too, for the handful of people still in the middle. These are people I hope and trust still have their grandma’s virtues encoded in their hearts, even as they stand, mask-less, waiving ridiculous protest signs.
I hope a few of those people—who may not yet know someone directly who has died from Covid-19—get to know the faces and stories of the many who have already died.
If even for a few seconds.
All these people in this video are strangers to me. But they are not strangers to their children, their grandchildren, and their grieving loved ones.
Maybe I will do another one of these. Maybe not. But that won’t be because there wouldn’t be enough screen captures.
I will leave the last word to Dr. Elizabeth Sawin. As the editor of a climate change newsletter, I have followed her work and her heartfulness, as she has become a sort of wise woman of the climate awakening.
But I see that her ‘heart-mind‘ (as they say in Eastern traditions) is equally incisive when it comes to world-transforming pandemics and the challenge they pose to our institutions and our individual selves.
Be well, stay safe. Wear a mask out in the world like a superhero.
Subscribe to TheStoryIsTheThing Newsletter
SUBSCRIBE to this site’s free email newsletter for updates on essays, photo-essays, multimedia and more. It’s very intermittent: thestoryisthething.substack.com