As if a pandemic wasn’t enough, there’s more.
This week, two more deaths, mothers of friends who both died horrific Covid deaths, alone – one after a physician declined to test her and sent her back home to isolate. Turns out, he sent her home to die.
I delivered yet another care quilt. There aren’t enough tears or enough quilts to assuage the unrelenting hemorrhaging.
There is overwhelming grief in so many families as the number ticks up to and passes 109,000 deaths in this country. 5890 people have died of Covid in the US in the past seven days, and 1500 just yesterday.
It’s not stopping and it’s not over. Not even close.
And yet, I observe people in public, walking around in stores, many with children, with no masks for anyone.
They may be “done with Covid” as one t-shirt proclaimed, but mark my words, Covid is not done with us yet.
My friend’s mother’s death occurred after a family member infected her on Mother’s Day weekend, and now her husband, my friend’s father, has it too. So, killing Grandma just got very real for this family, not just a platitude people think is meant to scare them into compliance with something as horribly personally invasive as wearing a face mask.
Once it’s too late, it’s too late. There is no redo.
As my friend said, “We would do anything, absolutely anything, to bring her back.” She explained, in detail, her mother’s horrific death, alone. I desperately wanted to put my hands over my ears and block it out, but my friend had to live it, and her mother had to die it, so the least I could do was listen to it. My friend is suffering too.
She said, “All we had to do was NOT visit her, or wear masks, and everyone didn’t. I didn’t press the issue. It seemed like it was OK – and now she’s dead. I’ll never forgive myself.”
And now, with the focus shifted to what borders on a national emergency, the importance of masks, social distancing and other prevention measures has retreated to a much less visible back burner.
Trouble in the Heart Land
There are few times in my life that I’ve been left entirely without words, bereft of inspiration. This day, this past week, is that time. So please forgive no DNA article this week.
I. Just. Can’t.
Furthermore, I feel that publishing about genealogy right now is disrespectful of the gravity of what this nation, and we as citizens, are facing. I’m not referring solely to the pandemic.
With the unrelenting pandemic, mounting deaths, unemployment, dams breaking in Michigan causing thousands to be evacuated, their homes destroyed, and then the horrific death of George Floyd last week and resulting violence – many of us have been pushed beyond the limits of our personal emotional endurance.
Not only that, but life’s “regular” frustrations and challenges continue too, complicated sometimes by our new reality, in addition to these added stressors.
It’s almost impossible to discuss this situation without an injection of politics, but I’m going to, because right now, the toxicity of politics is fueling all of these fires.
These “problems” belong to everyone, regardless of their politics, because we will all suffer the consequences – good or bad.
I am strongly, with every ounce of my being, opposed to what I saw happen to George Floyd in Minneapolis. I’m opposed as well to the system that allows that to happen to anyone.
Secondarily, I’m heartsick to see our cities and property within those cities burned and looted. Many of those mom-and-pop businesses were barely surviving Covid, and may not survive at all now.
Not only is that behavior unacceptable in and of itself, but it also distracts from and diminishes the message of non-violent protesters, whose voices clearly need to be heard – because obviously change wasn’t going to happen otherwise.
Opportunistic looting and violence detract attention that should be focused on George Floyd’s death and the cumulative situation and actions across days, months, years, and decades that allowed and caused this day to arrive.
George Floyd’s homicide was a horrific human rights violation that we have all now seen, from several, indisputable angles thanks to readily available video technology.
And yes, it just so happens to have occurred while the US is a tinder box, in the middle of a pandemic with record unemployment and the most toxic, divisive, political climate of my lifetime. Everyone is on edge and many are frustrated and angry for any variety of reasons. All it took was a spark and the result is a explosive fire stoked with gasoline.
Having said that, I also feel compelled to say that not all police officers are like the man, men, whose names I won’t utter, that murdered George Floyd.
My son is an officer, and so are my friends, both black and white, male and female, and I know first hand that the majority of officers choose to serve and protect and do so honorably. Those officers are horrified too, and right now, many officers are being targeted with violence because of their uniform, both on and off duty, along with their families, which is also wrong.
The difference this time, in Minneapolis, with George Floyd’s murder, is that with multiple public videos, there is no question about what happened before or during the encounter. The “resisting arrest,” excuse falls short, because one can’t “resist” very effectively after being handcuffed face down. After being restrained, there is no need to be “held down” for another 10 minutes by 3 men until the very life-breath is squeezed out of you.
We, the public, don’t have to try to figure out who to believe this time, because we can see the situation unfolding with our own eyes, watching every horrific second, for nearly 10 minutes in total, as even bystanders begged the officer with his knee on George Floyd’s neck to stop and an EMT repeatedly asked to check his pulse. Yet, that officer continued compressing his knee into George Floyd’s neck for 7 minutes as George repeatedly said he couldn’t breathe, called for his mother near the end, and finally, begged the officer not to kill him. Then, the officer continued for almost another 3 minutes after George lost consciousness. There is absolutely no possible justification.
George Floyd died, face down in the street, at the hands of 4 (now former) officers, in the full light of day, in front of a crowd, nonchalantly – like this was nothing out of the ordinary and happens every day.
Maybe, just maybe, that’s because it does.
I don’t know.
But here’s what I do know.
We need answers.
We need an impartial investigation.
Justice needs to occur.
Along with change.
Not just for George Floyd, but for all of the George Floyds in the future – regardless of the color of their skin.
The next George Floyd could be your father, son, brother, spouse, uncle…
We need to do better, as a society.
Not just in Minneapolis.
We need to find ways to unite and not divide.
To heal these freshly re-opened wounds so that the next generation, and the next, don’t have to replay this scenario over and over again.
I thought we were past this as a society. We aren’t.
We need to provide the same protections for all Americans, all humans, regardless of their race, religion, ethnicity, sex or gender – whether or not they look or act the same as or different from us.
People should not be demonized or vilified because of the color of their skin, their sex, or anything about them that they do not have control of. People must be held accountable for behaviors they do control.
Racism and systemic discrimination are what needs to die. Not just related to policing, but in each and every one of our hearts. That’s where evil lives and takes root.
We Are in This Stew Pot Together
I had hoped that this pandemic might convey a much-needed message that indeed, we, all of us, ARE IN THIS TOGETHER, because we are.
“This” isn’t just a pandemic, it’s life on this earth, and if we sanction and ignore crimes against any person or people unjustly, we ourselves become potential candidates for that same behavior when the tides turn one day.
We or another family member could be the next George Floyd – black, white, Jewish, Muslim, LGBTQ, female, whatever – fueled by hate and rage. It has happened before and it’s up to us to be sure it never happens again.
Or our mother, grandmother or another family member could be the next to die because we failed to take what really amounts to minor, inconvenient, pandemic precautions. Because we simply CHOOSE not to.
These deaths are all unjust, unnecessary, and preventable.
We just have to “want to” badly enough to do what’s necessary. Before someone dies, not after.
In reality, both situations boil down to respect and acting respectful to others. Wearing a mask is simple, painless and easy. Officers may need to arrest a man, but they don’t need to kill him in the circumstances we saw. There are appropriate situations for deadly force, and that clearly wasn’t one.
Do unto others…
These aren’t other people’s problems; the responsibility belongs to each and every one of us – individually and personally.
There is no us-versus-them. There is only “us.” There is no “them.”
Don’t allow any of these three deaths to be wasted. They didn’t die peacefully, but their final chapter has not yet been written. That’s up to us. We can assure that their legacy serves a larger purpose – these deaths being catalysts for good, for doing better, for change.
Look in the mirror.
What actions are you taking?
We need to ask ourselves how each and every one of us can make a difference, and act, so there won’t be more.