Chris Walsh (chris_walsh) wrote,
Chris Walsh

This moment: a coronavirus entry

A couple of weeks ago I saw a cartoon, drawn in response to the COVID-19 crisis. It was of an older man, wearing a sandwich board, the sort where you'd expect an apocalyptic message like "The End Is Nigh." This man's board, though, said "It's not the end of the world. Things are just going to suck for a while."

I've thought of that a lot since.

This is, in the truest sense, an extraordinary moment. Giant swaths of the world have shut down or slowed down in an effort to keep this pandemic from growing hugely worse, to "flatten the curve" to make this a more manageable fight, a slowdown done in a way not seen in a century: an extraordinary act for an extraordinary time.

It is a moment. Except for two things:

• We don't know how long this moment will take.

• For too many people already, it's been more than a moment.

Many have already lost loved ones. Well-known, well-liked people have succumbed, no longer with us because of this disease. Businesses have shuttered. So many have lost jobs. We in the United States have swiftly gotten closer to Great Depression levels of unemployment than we have at any time in the past 80 years. We're low on much of the equipment that we'll need to keep fighting this. People are stressed. People are tired, or exhausted.

It's a fight, for who knows how long.

It's a moment.

It's more than a moment.

Difficult times are going to come. Weird and weirder times are going to come. Headlines we never imagined seeing except in films and novels have already happened; so will other headlines. The events that people in future decades will learn about in history classes are taking place now and are about to take place and may be about to absolutely, in the moment, stun and flabbergast us.

It's not the end of the world, except for when it is, and someone dies (directly or indirectly) because of the disease. We've had so many endings already. We'll have more.

I've tried during this to listen to people who were in the trenches, so to speak, when AIDS took so many from us. For me, for too long, it was an abstract, at a remove: I learned about people like Indiana teenager Ryan White or movie star Rock Hudson having AIDS and dying from it — or, years later, learning that author Isaac Asimov had died of it. It took lyricist/ filmmaker Howard Ashman's death in 1991 for me to start to get even an inkling of the loss too many others had felt for a decade before. I spent too long shielded from that disease's impact, from the grief it caused. Too many others weren't. My distance, my shielding, was a luxury.

There's a very good chance that I will get hit in the face with the awful realities of COVID-19 far, far sooner. There's a very good chance of that for anyone reading this.

It could hurt. A lot.

And then you and I and we will have to cope with whatever level of hurt we've had.

It's a moment. It's still happening.

Things are going to suck for a while.

And we will deal with it how? And for how long?

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