The COVID files · waxing philosophical · whine and cheese

Day 42: Lightning strikes

Life is an ass. You spend your life trying to keep yourself and your family safe from one particular danger — a sabre-tooth tiger, for example — and while you’re doing that, you get killed by a lightning strike.

I’ve just lost my aunt, who was very dear to me. There are people in my family who are sick, who have been for a long time, and for whose deaths I’ve been preparing myself mentally; she was not one of them. She was healthy, active, and relatively young. And yet I’m now writing about her in the past tense.

Ever since a personal brush with raw grief thirteen years ago, I’ve been fascinated by how we (humans) act as though it’s an orderly and just world. We assume that if we do, eat, and think the right things, bad things won’t happen to us. When something bad happens to others, we start asking questions: “Was he sick?” “What was she wearing?” “Had he been drinking?” We reassure ourselves that there was a reason for their deaths. We live in a litigious society (less so in Canada, more so in the U.S.) where if something bad happens, someone must be at fault. We simply can’t conceive of a world where something  bad could happen to us at any moment for no reason whatsoever.

And yet it does, repeatedly, to all of us. And every single time we’re shocked. We never seem to learn. I guess it’s a protective mechanism.

So between that protective mechanism and the worldwide concerns over COVID-19, the possibility of someone I loved who was healthy and vital suddenly dying of the kind of thing people died of before COVID-19 was simply not on my radar.

(Public Service Announcement: Misfortune is not an either/or game. The same awful things that happened to people before are still happening to people. COVID is a newcomer, but it doesn’t edge out everything else.)

My head hurts. I’m thirsty. Can you get dehydrated if you cry a lot? #notaskingforafriend



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