It’s Still Dark

Note: I have avoided writing about this subject like the plague that it is. But events have drawn me to it in spite of myself. Before reading, you should know that this was written a month ago. It was out of date by the time I finished it. But I have chosen not to change the numbers, so the piece can be an archival record.

water rainy rain raindrops

Photo by Markus Spiske on

It’s still dark. The room feels stuffy. I leave my bed, open the window, and the sound of rain fills the room. It echoes the sound I hear in my brain.

It sounds as if I’m deep in the woods trying to tune into a low-signal radio station. Static of the worst kind. Angry, crackling dissonance. A constant hissing as terrifying as if all the voices in the world are speaking in my head simultaneously.

This is not the cadence of a gentle rain tickling our metal roof, a meditative thrum to sleep by. This is the sound of nightmares. Of madness. A discordant jumble of sound I cannot make sense of. The sound of nonsense numbers.

Numbers too big to contemplate clamor for attention I do not possess.

Ten is a number I can understand—the size of a family Thanksgiving gathering. Thirty—my grade- school classes. A hundred? Maybe my granddaughter’s high school soccer games.

But twenty thousand. What does that number mean? The population of my town. Have I ever seen all those people together in one place? If I drove to town one day and all 20,000 lay dead in the streets, could my brain take it in?

And yet, the numbers in my head are exponentially bigger than that. And they are real. They are human lives. The raindrops are their voices. I have no space to breathe.

Overnight, the number of deaths in the United States from a single virus passed the 50,000 mark. Overnight. By tomorrow, we will have exceeded a million documented cases. Before I can blink, cases worldwide will rise to 3 million with 200,000 deaths.  How am I supposed to understand those numbers?

I read a New York Magazine piece the other day. The reporter wrote that what we call “under control” is Americans dying in multiples of September 11 every week.” That kind of death toll is being normalized.

My stomach flips, but my mind is disengaged, my heart numbed. Too many numbers, too many voices—too little meaning. A tale of sound and fury, signifying nothing,

But . . .  tonight I am told someone very dear to me has the thing whose name I dare not speak.

Simultaneously I learn that 40-somethings with barely any symptoms are dying of virus-induced strokes. My son’s age. My daughter’s age.

Now, I feel it.

The cold sweat of bone-chilling fear.

6 thoughts on “It’s Still Dark

  1. I think people here these numbers of people dying and it’s easy to forget that each number is a life. And each life has friends and family mourning. That’s a lot of people suffering and we just hear these numbers, get upset for a second, and then move on. It’s mind boggling to me that we came to a point where less 1,000 people dying is a good day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • So true! It’s hard to wrap your mind around such big numbers. But we’re also cursed as a society by a piteously short attention span. And now, people are treating eased restrictions as they’d treat a sunny day after a long snowstorm, as though it’s all over. I fear for all of us. Thank you for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes. And normalizing, it, accepting it, nodding with phony concern, ignoring the agony of suffocation that the dying feel or the agony of loved ones not being able to be there with their dying family member, or the first responders fighting the battle with an unseen enemy.

    I can understand the mistakes made, the concerns about how to balance the saving the economy and protecting the lives of real people, but there are two things I cannot understand: willful ignorance about the issue at hand, and the utter irresponsibility expressed and disregard shown for the health and safety of others through refusal to conform with the simple standards of behavior in avoiding infection.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your comment, Rick. I’m with you. I’m hearing more and more “I’m so over it.” Hard to imagine how there can be so little understanding and empathy. The other frequent comment is “If you’re worried/at-risk/etc., stay home,” which conveniently ignores the fact that it’s not that simple–doctor appointments, prescriptions, groceries, etc, not to mention work requirements for some. Somewhere, somehow, there will be human contact. And there goes the stay-at-homers’ safety net. How can it be so hard?


  3. An excellent description of what living with this nightmare has been — and still is — like. We have a family member who probably had it — TWICE (different strains?). Got really sick, got better, got really sick again. BUT was not able to get tested for Covid-19 in the emergency room because, while having multiple Covid-19 symptoms, didn’t have fever. [They tested for several other things, and those tests were negative.] Current status: feeling better now, as does another family member in the same household who was also sick; but the doctor doesn’t want to do an antibody test until the tests are more accurate.

    The sun was out for quite a while today (I’m looking for — and finding — joy in the little things).

    Liked by 1 person

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