Days in shadow

In early February, I sat on a chartered cruise ship in the Caribbean, feeling lucky and listening to live performances by dozens of my favorite musicians. Then something odd (and a little chilling) happened.

On the second day of the five-day trip, the captain announced that the buffet would be closed for a few hours, and food from it would be served by the staff after that. I assumed that someone on the ship showed signs of a norovirus, the bane of cruises everywhere, but I also was mildly concerned about that coronavirus thing that was vaguely brewing in China. But everyone adjusted, there were no other apparent health issues, and most of us seemed to have a good time for the rest of the cruise.

How ridiculous that all seems now.

Like so many people, I have been deeply struggling and occasionally in despair over the situation we currently find ourselves in. It is hard to keep it together when you think you might be dead soon, and that your hopes are tied to what passes for the U.S. government right now. And it is crushing to have spent decades preparing and saving for retirement, only to have those plans washed away in a few weeks. I wonder if I ever will see my office again, or go to a baseball game, or see my brother and sisters in person; my family had a Zoom get-together a couple of weeks ago and I managed to smile until it was done, after which I lost my shit for a while.

Eventually, I landed in a place that offers cold comfort, but that’s still a form of comfort. All of this is out of my control. All of this has become utterly unpredictable. I have accepted this and am living my life a day at a time. I just focus on getting through today and solving its problems as I go along. I don’t focus on the possibility of job loss, sudden health reversal or even worse; I don’t dwell on what kind of a world might still be here if I even manage to retire. Life is just a series of days now, one after the other, with no distant horizon to look at or aim for.

People say these things always end. That took a couple of years for the last pandemic, and this one in some ways is worse. What we’re doing now is designed to keep a brush fire smouldering instead of flaming uncontrollably, but it’s still a fire and we’re the brush. Eventually, you’ll get singed if you’re lucky and turned into ash if you’re not. I know the best scientific minds in the world are working on a vaccine, but I also know how those efforts have gone against coronaviruses in general. I am more hopeful that a treatment can be developed, as opposed to a vaccine.

This all would be a crap way for me to close a really great story of a life, but I don’t think too much about that any more. For now, I live for today.


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