A Different Perspective on Covid – 19
|By now, almost everyone in the world has heard of, and been affected by in some way, the virus pandemic. Tragedies abound, from those who have lost their lives to the millions who have been put out of work or seen a business built for decades turn to nothing. There are people at high risk, brave souls who work every day in the face of grave danger, and family members unable to offer help to their own relatives, or neighbors or community. The list of demographic groups affected in dire ways seems endless, and any attempt to list them all would be futile.|
Even people relatively unaffected, like me, can suffer, although certainly much less so. I worry about friends and family at risk. I care about friends and former students I love who work in medicine and are doing so much. I want to help, but how? If you are older, (I’m 73), hands-on volunteer work is probably not a good idea. It all makes you feel helpless.
In my case, the local YMCA did a great job of providing options. I was able to leave the automatic dues deductions that come out of my checking account in place, and the Y has used that money to offer food and support in many ways to the wider community. That is some help for sure, but it still leaves you with a sort of Covid-19 survivor guilt. At least survivor so far.
Pretty much everyone is suffering, from the worst outcome possible to lesser degrees for the fortunate. However, today I came up, by accident, with a great way to yank your mind off the daily barrage of bad news and concern.
Go for a walk in a cemetery, and the older the better. It will change your thinking, at least for a while.
Bear Creek cemetery is about a mile from my house. I have been curious about it for decades, but never taken the time for a stroll. Until today.
It’s a very small cemetery, much less than the size of a football field. Most of the grave markers are from the 1850’s to 1880’s, with a smattering of more recent installations up to the early 1990’s. It is obvious that the cemetery has not been kept up for decades. Everything is overgrown with long grass, bushes, and even trees that were not there initially.
I was told that the cemetery was sold a few years ago to an eastern religion church of some sort. Those folks have begun to use a previously empty section that is perfectly maintained and shows the flowers and flags of recent visits. The headstones are not stones at all, but pillars of some white synthetic material about 6’ tall, inscribed with names etched in a language I could not read. Very close together, so my assumption is that they mark the resting places of deceased loved ones. I did not get too close, lest I offend someone.
The older and original majority of the cemetery was fascinating. The grass and weeds and trees are on very soft ground, and some of the headstones and markers are sinking into the earth. Some headstones are so old and weatherworn I could not read them.
If you spend some time, you will be sobered by the obvious evidence of how life expectancy has grown. There were only a handful of people whose lives had lasted past 70 years. The majority seem to have passed away between 45 and 60.
The headstones were very simple, usually listing only the name and the years of birth and death. They still have stories to tell.
Men and women who lived together from marriage until the death of one, and then the other sometimes years later. One showed the birth and death of the wife, but only the birth year of the man. He would have been 62 when his wife died in 1982. He would be 100 today. Is he still alive or was he buried elsewhere?
Many tragic stories are revealed, particularly of children. One headstone honored a child who lived… for one day. Another listed the names of four children with the same last name. None of them lived past the age of five.
When you leave you will be very quiet, your mind filled with somber thoughts of sorrow, but also gratitude for the years you and your family have been given to enjoy.
And maybe that will make returning to the day’s virus news easier to bear and renew your hope that this will soon be over.
For more thought-provoking time, I highly recommend my second-most favorite book of poetry: Spoon River Anthology, by Edgar Lee Masters.
May you live in peace and good health.
David Preston Copyright 2020