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Virus Without Borders: Chapter Twenty-Nine

Photo of a sunset © copyright by Carol Bergman 2020



Sunsets & Flowers



The human spirit creates freedom.


 -Ben Okri



And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.


                                        -Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince



When most news is still bad news, I notice that sunsets and flowers get the most FB and Instagram hits, whereas more serious posts do not. It is as though, by reading them, we risk defeat, we risk unremitting sorrow. Sufferation, the Jamaicans call it. Best not allow the bad news to saturate our spirits. Take a road trip, break bubbles and pods to visit family across state lines, why not? Settle into a big book and read slowly contemplating every word, savoring each phrase. Inside the book there is no danger, no denial. Stay very still. Shut the pundits down. Go for a walk. Admire the sunsets and flowers.


Why this sardonic prologue today rather than a story or an interview? Because, dear reader, I have two beloved friends in nursing homes, and the autistic son of another is in an institution, and I am full of unremitting sorrow for them and their families. On a drive up the mountain for a distance swim with my daughter in her pond the other day, I missed these friends who have unwittingly become "inmates," and thought, "When will I ever see them again? And will they survive this pandemic?" The radio was tuned to 94.3, "light" FM. I wailed:  I'm never gonna let you go/ I'm gonna hold you in my arms forever,,,


There is something here, as I write, that feels helpful as I surface from these dark thoughts, as well as two difficult encounters, one with a neighbor, the other at the pool—masks, distance, protocols, compliance—endless conversations. Both incidents were verging on violence, the one physical, the other verbal, though there was threat in both. And though I consider myself a citizen journalist, I never expect disrespect, or worse; incivility and hatred always take me by surprise. But America is aflame with rage and accusation.


What would my observant, kind friend Harmer have said as I recounted these incidents? What would my astute no nonsense friend Josephine have said? I remember the last time I saw them both and cherish those penultimate, or ultimate, face-to-face conversations, over lunch, over dinner, arms around one another in a warm good-bye.


I lament the callous disregard of the regime in Washington that has prolonged the separation of friends and family and endangered all of us. Only a vaccine and a vigorous and protected election will set us free.



This post is dedicated to Harmer Johnson, Josephine Feagley and Gerard's TJ.


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