This evening I watched the annual Memorial Day Concert on TV. It was not the usual format I have watched over the years because Covid has changed the way we live now-a-days. There were excerpts from past years, and new well wishes and thank yous to those who are the new “heroes” of today. Our Covid War is not with a foreign invader, nor is it with a human dictator trying to be the most powerful man in the world. No, rather our War is with an invisible enemy that most citizens of this nation do not even recognize as an enemy. It is interesting to see the difference between a physical “real” war with metal weapons, soldiers and violent killing to the present war where the weapons are hospital beds and medical personnel are trying to save lives rather than kill. For some reason, our nation’s people cannot fathom they are truly at war, and that 100,000 real people have died already during this war, and are not mourned except by those who lost them.
I’m remembering when my son fought in a “real” war. The fear I felt everyday was overpowering. I never slept a full night; I experienced tremors of unshakeable fear; I found it difficult to get up in the morning and go on to my office job; I often silently cried until the fear abated. I tied a yellow flag on my car and put on a very brave face around my co-workers and friends. I even got pulled over by the police for running a red light because my mind was not on driving, but rather on imagining what my son was going through as he drove that damn Bradley tank through the desert. The officer forgave me the offense, but told me to be careful. Yes, of course, I would be more attentive to my actions.
I could not listen to chorus singers from the local high school visiting our office without walking away to avoid others seeing my eyes water and hands tremble from memories of my son’s days in his school chorus. On the day I received a collect call from Kuwait, from my son, telling me he was coming home, I broke down and sobbed aloud at my office desk. My friends crowded around, worried, but my sobbing was for joy: “He is coming home, he’s coming home!” So, I did not lose my son to that war.
And now, years later, I am once again tense with worry about this Covid War, but now I stress over not one son, but over two sons, a daughter, daughters-in-law, partners, grandchildren, and my husband, because many in my country do not care about my family or my fear, and refuse to help fight the war. Because a silent enemy takes lives daily, and I can only wait and hope my family is spared while reckless people ignore the enemy and flaunt their disregard for its power. I find myself angry, insulted, and filled with disbelief that so many find it inconvenient to wear a mask in order to save my family’s life, and, in fact, their own families’ lives. I find myself appalled that people actually believe their god would want them to ignore safety, ignore caring for others, and attend a crowded building to pray to Him and spread disease. What is a church other than a structure built by man, when their creator is everywhere in nature and can be seen and felt surrounding them all the time.
So, I must again live in fear of loss rather than enjoy my senior years in carefree comfort. My respite now is to disappear from my frightened thoughts and tend to the horse. I escape from worldly tension as I brush his coat to a mud free, glossy black and enjoy watching him nudge at my husband’s hand looking for that bag of carrots. It’s something, at least, and allows me to believe that someday all will be well. And I await the call when I am told a vaccine is ready and my family is safe once again.
And, of course, the red wine I’m sipping this night brings me a little escape, too.