Lucky

Unlike most people, fallout from The Bob has left me largely untouched, so much so, that when people tell me about things like the problems in India, I have to stop and think, and then I remember. Oh, yeah — there’s a pandemic going on.

India is dealing with heavy death tolls. Other countries have stringent curfews to help prevent heavy death tolls. But here in my almost forgotten corner of Colorado, there have been a few deaths, some even, that have affected friends, but mostly, we’ve been spared a lot of the agony the rest of the world has experienced. Oddly, though, the last two months of 2019 saw an upsurge of a horrific and devastating illness being spread here in this county. Back then, The Bob hadn’t yet been identified in the United States, so people were told they had a bad case of the flu, though in retrospect, at least a couple of doctors changed their diagnoses. All the symptoms these people had matched The Bob symptoms, even to the severity, the aftereffects, the collateral problems and complications.

By the time the official restrictions in the state were put into place, I’d already been curtailing my activities to keep from getting that abysmal flu. Even though no curfew was ever in place here, I had my own curfew. (To be honest, it wasn’t disease related — I generally save my wanderings, such as they are, for daylight hours.)

So basically, I’ve just lived my life as if there were no dread disease floating around. I do wear a mask when I’m in stores or at the library, and I probably would wear it elsewhere if I were ever around groups of people, but for the most part, I only have contact with a couple of people.

Because of this, because of the prevalence of the vaccine, because the library is open, and because I am boycotting the news, I hadn’t given much recent thought to The Bob. I guess since it hadn’t really affected me, I more or less figured that it was pretty much under control around here, but apparently it’s still rampant. This coming week there was supposed to be a town fair and celebration, but it has now been cancelled because of an upsurge in the number of Bob cases in the schools.

I hope you know I’m not making light of anyone’s problems that stemmed from The Bob. I’m aware that a lot of people have been affected in disastrous ways, and I am truly sorry for that. At some point, I might even be one of those people; the longer this goes on, the greater the chance of being affected in some way, and not just because a local festival and parade has been cancelled.

So far I’ve been lucky. Lucky that I haven’t gotten sick — with anything! (Amazing how staying away from people keeps one away from all sorts of contagious diseases.) Lucky that I can do so well without a lot of contact with people. And lucky, too, that a lot of what contact I have is via this blog — I can talk about what’s on my mind, and though it’s often a one-sided conversation, it serves its purpose of making me feel connected to the rest of the world.

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Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

Warm War

A blog reader mentioned that he is wondering to what extent life will be altered by our experiences over the last year or so, and now I’m wondering, too. I have thought about the future now and again, not the particulars so much as the fact of it: no matter what happens with The Bob, our lives will be changed, it’s just that I don’t know — can’t know — how far reaching these changes will be.

It seems to me that the world will settle down eventually into new patterns, but again, there’s no way of knowing right now what those patterns — economic, social, political — will be. There’s also no knowing if those in power will ever let us know.

All of this rearranging of the world, our mores, what we’re willing to give up to for a facsimile of safety reminds me of a world war, because that is what happens during a world war. Everything is different, chaotic, but eventually life settles back into a new pattern, and younger generations never realize things were ever different. For example, think of all the millions of people who are alive today who have never experienced a world without airport security and checkpoints. They’ve never gone to the waiting room with their departing loved ones, never stood at the window waving good-bye as the airplane took off.

I’m sure, in that same way, upcoming generations will accept as right and proper whatever the world becomes after The Bob, because they won’t know anything else.

This obviously isn’t a hot war, with military conflicts killing off the young and strong. Nor is it a cold war being fought mostly with propaganda and fear, where countries are in a perhaps fatal stalemate, waiting for one or another to tip the balance of power. So what is this that we’re going through? A warm war? People are dying in vast numbers, though for the most part, the casualties of this war aren’t the young and strong but the old and weak. (A friend believes this is all about depopulation, though again, there’s no way to know for sure. There are always a dozen or a dozen dozen reasons for any worldwide conflict, with everyone involved trying to gather more power for their own particular interest groups.)

As I said, there’s no way for me to even begin to guess what the end result will be. We’re simply not being given enough information about important matters such as who, actually, was tweaking this virus, who let it loose and why. Was it on purpose? An accident? All these are the same questions my characters in A Spark of Heavenly Fire asked when a deadly organism was unleashed on the world, but that was a novel, and novels need some sort of resolution. Not so “real life.”

It’s easier to speculate about alterations on a more personal level, since although I don’t know all the particulars of The Bob and the reasons behind it, I do know how it is affecting my life. So far, I’ve managed to stay healthy, but a lot of that is due to spending most of my time alone. It’s hard to catch something from yourself, though I have done that — allergy attacks that become so devastating they might as well be a infectious disease. Mostly, though, I have managed to maintain my health during this time — no colds or flu or anything catching — which tells me that staying away from people is good for my health.

I’ve always been a bit of stickler when it comes to opening doors, such as those to a public restroom, making sure I use a paper towel to turn the door handle, and that won’t change, though I won’t feel as abashed about it. Nor will I ever use a public restroom again except in a dire emergency.

I’ve always been a bit antsy about standing in lines, and I will no longer do so unless people keep their distance. I have never liked people breathing down my neck, and even more so now.

I have a hunch, as things get back to a state that at least feels normal compared to the siege mentality we are now experiencing, I won’t be as loose and free as I was during the previous few years. I won’t be as willing to attend events where more than a few people are present, won’t be as willing to embrace strangers as I did, won’t be as determined to be sociable. It was always hard for me to be outgoing, but I did make the attempt because not to do so would be limiting my life in an unhealthy way, but I’m not sure if I’ll ever get back to the point where I feel the necessity.

But then, what do I really know? This warm war will change us, all of us, even me. And the “me” to come might be more willing to be bold, to get out in public and let life — and death — fall where they may.

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If you haven’t yet read A Spark of Heavenly Fire, my novel of a quarantine that predated this pandemic by more than ten years, you can read the first chapter online here: http://patbertram.com/A_Spark_of_Heavenly_Fire.html

Buy it on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0024FB5H6/

Download the first 30% free on Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1842