The names come at you in torrents, but it’s the photos and the short, simple biographies that torment, and tear me apart.
. . .Kious Kelly, 48, NYC ER Nurse; April Dunn, 33, Baton Rouge, Advocate for Disabled; Kenneth Sauders III, 43, Decatur, GA, Civic Leader; Abraham Vega, 48, Dallas, County Sheriff; Willie Levi, 73, Waterloo, Iowa, Turkey Processing Plant worker; Robbie Walters, 84, Sacramento, Police Officer/Legislator; Elvia Ramirez, 17, Fargo, ND, high school senior; Anthony M. Hopkins, 70, Elizabethtown, KY, Vietnam War Veteran/Purple Heart Recipient & Postal Worker. . .
Reading through the New York Times latest “Portraits of Grief” — modeled after the more than 2400 brief obituaries of those we lost in the 9/11 terrorist attacks — is a profoundly sad experience. Entitled, “Those We’ve Lost,” the COVID portraits of grief number 100 times as many as those the Times meticulously assembled 19 years ago. That’s as of today — nearly 100 times as many human lives lost — from COVID 19, as were lost when the Two World Trade Center towers came tumbling down. By the time of next year’s 20th Anniversary of 9/11, COVID-related deaths in the United States could approach the unimaginable total of 500,000, or nearly 200 times the number of those who perished on 9/11. Let that sink in.
The numbing effect of such numbers — more than all of the American combat deaths in World Wars I & II combined, and approaching the 650,000 Americans who perished 100 years ago during the 2-year Great Influenza Pandemic — is bad enough. To read about each individual life lost, each family upended by what the Trump Administration privately knew was a “deadly” virus while publically denying its deadliness, is to dive back and forth between depression and rage and the depths of sadness. So much unnecessary death; so many lives which could have been saved; so much devastating human loss.
That’s what makes Donald Trumps petulant pouting over his election defeat so unconscionable. He never mourned with the family of Albert Petrocelli, the 73-year old Fire Chief from NYC who, as the Times wrote, “answered the call on 9/11,” nor with the young family of 22-year old Israel Sauz of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, who just became a “new father.” None of these incalculable losses, nor thousands more deaths of people of all races and ages, received any expression sympathy or a call of condolence from the President of the United States. Gone, and forgotten — except for how he imagined their deaths hurt him.
Trump saved his tears for himself, crying over the unfairness of COVID coming during the last year of his term in office, and “causing” him to lose re-election. Woe is me, more than you. Forget the deaths which continue to destroy so many families; forget the unfettered spread of the virus overwhelming hospitals and healthcare workers across the country. Trump lost, and more attention has been paid to how he’s coping with his election loss, than how thousands of families are struggling to survive in the aftermath of the loss of the precious lives of the people they loved.
I have no patience for coddling criminal crybaby Trump, nor worrying about his mental state from suffering such a “big defeat.” His failure to face reality, eagerness to deny the truth — even though he knew it, as he admitted on tape to Bob Woodward — and to consciously reject the medical science and public health practices needed to save human lives — make him directly responsible for many of the COVID deaths he still ignores, and that we still mourn.
I cry for those we have lost to COVID — for Ethel Jacobson Hamburger from our own family whose uplifting voice we can no longer hear on the phone. I cry for the loss of the young fathers and mothers, and nurses, police officers, grocery store workers, grandparents, and dancers and singers who will never again be hugged or kissed or touched.
I do not cry, nor have a single shred of sympathy left for a heartless, hollow man, without a soul, whose only sense of loss is how it diminishes himself.
I cry for all of “Those We’ve Lost,” for all their grace, dignity and love, which enriched our lives. Their work on earth, their miraculous gifts to us, must now become part of our own. That’s how we can honor them, and make their memories live forever.