What a week. Not only did Henri come swooping through many states, dumping several inches of rain, Ida aimed her relentless fury on New Orleans, and helpless people died in Tennessee floods…bad enough. For someone who tries to see life through happy lenses, these days are a challenge. Rather, events feel like a painful gut punch of horrible news.
Yesterday when we learned that thirteen Americans died as the result of a suicide bombing in Afghanistan, our hearts were pierced with sadness…not only for our brave military, their families but for the dozens of dead and injured innocent Afghan people seeking escape from their Taliban/Isis infested country.
In my eight plus decades of life, I can’t remember a more tragic blow to our American image abroad than we are witnessing. We all agreed it is time to stop the twenty plus years of war in Afghanistan. However, like many other Americans, I am embarrassed, saddened and distraught that such a bungled withdrawal could result in senseless loss of life, due to trust of extremists with little regard for life or limb.
On a local level, our newspaper featured a story written by a doctor who, for the last 18 months, has treated Covid ICU patients. His perspective, now that we have easy access to three different vaccines, has changed from compassion to anger. Why? Because the latest patient he treated refused to be vaccinated. A man of 50 years old, with a wife and two young children, came to the hospital in rough shape. His condition demanded a respirator, mega drugs, and the complete arsenal of Covid treatment. Sadly, even after heroic attempts to save his life, this man died….and his death could have been avoided IF he had been vaccinated.
At this point in time, and with the positive information available, I find it unfathomable that anyone can deny the effectiveness of Pfizer, Moderna and to a lesser degree, J&J vaccines. And now, Pfizer has FDA approval, which will soon be awarded to the others. My heart aches yet rankles for those stuck in irrational thinking. Not only do these unvaccinated people run the risk of becoming very ill with the Delta variant, but they can become carriers.
Here at Cedarfield Life Care facility in Virginia where my husband and I live, our director has mandated that all staff members must be vaccinated by September 13, or expect automatic dismissal. In addition, no one may visit us without showing proof of vaccination. A tall order for residents with unvaccinated loved ones.
According to many doctors, their advice for those who worry about extreme reactions (few and far between), “GO TO YOUR DOCTOR’S OFFICE FOR THE SHOT, or to a HOSPITAL where you will be closely monitored.” Truth be told, you will be much sicker from the virus than from any vaccine. AND you will not die from it.
Tragedy knows no limits. We not only have global sadness this week, but our own Boston family reports the untimely death of forty-year long friends’ son, a newlywed, age thirty-three, who was killed in a freak boating accident while attending a houseboat Bachelor Party. Not only was this victim a brilliant PhD recipient from a prestigious California University but he graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a promising future. Known as a risk taker, he took his chances and lost in a fatal accident. Attending the funeral for this young man left each person wallowing in sadness for his bereft young wife and family. Now please tell me why such senseless incidents happen? They do, because they are all part of life and poor choices.
The difference between dying in Afghanistan as an enlisted member of the US military and dying in a freak water related accident cannot be compared. Those brave military troops signed up willingly for a greater cause: to defend our country, the United States of America…..they knew the risk. Yet, a young man who played the odds in a stunt that cost his life ignored the possible consequences. A personal choice. All deaths were premature. But sadly, the overwhelming grief that each family experiences cannot be separated. It is raw and painful.
As I look at the entire week of heartache and disappointment, I feel compelled to try to make sense of it. And there is a reason that we may better understand these events. Life is a series of choices. Some of the ones we make are rational; some are because we believe in a cause; and some are because we think we can beat the odds. Yes, we each have the right to choose, but we don’t have the right to act selfishly to prove something to ourselves.
And for me, the choice is “how will MY actions affect those whom I love the most?” “How can I make MY life more relevant to those who mean the most to me?” “How can I make OUR world a better place to live?” “How can I be MORE considerate and continue to learn and grow as a person and as a member of society?”
My fervent prayer is that those who remain unvaccinated will surrender their prejudice, their concern and agree to immunization. Thanks to medical science, we have the necessary tools to fight this awful disease. It is with them, the unvaccinated, that lies the future end of this Covid pandemic. Just as it is within the realm of those who take unnecessary chances or even those who govern our nation and send our young military men and women into precarious situations. Being stubborn is risky. Accept expert advice. Be wise.
In conclusion, my husband is a man who lives with Alzheimer’s, an irreversible brain disease that no one can stop. As he has said to me, “I didn’t work so hard all my life to end up living apart from you. I want to go home with you.” This is heartbreaking to hear, but next week we will have had nearly 64 years of a wonderful marriage, not without its bumps or bruises. I cannot, nor will not, feel cheated that our life together is ending this way. We have been richly blessed. We have raised four marvelous children, who never cease to support and love us. And we are blessed with a passel of grandchildren and two great-grandchildren who hopefully will live in a world where the Sun Shines more than the Rain Falls. And if more rain than sun occurs, let us open up an umbrella and go forward through the puddles. Soggy shoes will dry.
God Bless America, our military, our medical experts and our young people. And please keep us on track to make sage rather than obtuse choices.