About two weeks ago, the numbers started to reach significance. Day by day, they have mounted, the reported cases, then the confirmed cases, once Cuomo got the tests rolling, and the deaths. You will read it all in news articles of these times, so I don't have to cite the numbers. What really punched my gut, the hospital beds set up by the Army Corps of Engineers at the Javitz Center, the refrigeration trailers wheeled up to hospital exits as morgues to handle the overflow of the coming corpses, the frantic calls of the Governor to find ventilators and PPE masks, visors, gowns and gloves for our medical teams. Finally, it was time to pull up our gangplank. We, my husband, our dog, and I, were now officially shut-ins. My years of germaphobic practices would now pay off. I hoped. I worked with my husband to refine our preventive procedures. He stopped saying I was being ridiculous.
Those of us who live lives of the mind and creativity are blessed by those traits while others might consider their apartments prisons. We leave our enclosure once a day, walk a half block to Riverside Park to exercise, or if we can wake up early enough, to make a run to the market, some with special hours for us old folks. Regardless, we mask and glove, make sure it isn't crowded, then dash in, grab, pay and run. Once home, we go through meticulous decontamination rituals. Still, any throat clearing by one of us is enough to send the other running for the exit. Is this the day all the ICUs will reach full capacity? Doctors and nurses, ill equipped, forced to reuse masks are themselves becoming ill and dying. The death of one today brought tears to my eyes. He was so young. So brave. So dedicated.The best of us.
It is spring. The flowers in Riverside Park have burst open in defiance, determined to remind us that there is beauty in the midst of such grimness. I pull down my mask to smell the blossoms on the breeze. I smile at people ten feet away, walking their jaunty dogs. The wind blows eastward from the Hudson. Drizzle smacks down dreaded droplets to the ground.
At home, there is chocolate. A retreat into these senses opens the spirit to times beyond the plague.