Death is an inevitable part of life.
Even I felt a little weary typing that sentence because the very essence of death is a double-edged sword. The thought of no longer being here will push you to make the most of your days, but then you realize you don’t have a say in how many days you have–a powerful and scary dynamic. It’s something that the world has constantly had to confront during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It’s one thing to see a death toll on a screen during a constantly moving news cycle. However, it’s quite another to look at the sheer number of flags at the COVID memorial at the National Mall, where you can bear witness to an overabundance of loss. Two years ago, the U.S. experienced its first case of COVID-19, and yesterday, we crossed a million deaths (which is most likely an undercount). That’s the world’s highest death toll in a country that’s flush with resources. Funding for the uninsured to get tested and treated has run out, Black people and POC are still disproportionately affected, and life expectancy in America has gone down for the second straight year.
Today feels eerie because the engine of capitalism tells us that we have to keep going without acknowledging what we’ve been going through. There’s no moment of silence, no words, and no reaching out with comfort. Even as the news hit late yesterday afternoon, it was a blip. The emphasis placed on getting back to “normal” is not allowing or providing people space to grieve.
People have been ushered back into cubicles with holes in their hearts because they lost their parent or significant other due to the random cruelty of this virus. While we feel we are in a post-pandemic stage (even though we still average 375 deaths a day), it’s not over. Our lack of empathy will keep ripping the bandaid off.
As America is embroiled in a fight for women’s reproductive rights, many who claim to be pro-life have done very little in response to the milestone we have just hit. The least we can do is to not let this sad time pass by as just another breaking news story on the way to the latest scandal. Let’s take stock of what we’ve lost and pause for those in pain.