I’ve heard a lot of people saying that they’ve stopped listening to
or reading the news, that they don’t need to know how many fell ill or died from COVID-19 in the last day or the last hour. Sometimes one of the people I hear saying that is me. And that’s all right. We all have to to do what we can to take care of ourselves — though there are so many many many people now whose circumstances will prevent them from getting what they need.
So I do step back from the television and ignore the headlines that flash across the screen of my phone. I put down the New Yorker and pick up Lord Peter Wimsey. I owe it to myself and to my family, to the nurses and doctors at the hospitals, to society in general, to stay as sane and healthy as I can.
But then I start thinking about what we owe the dead.
I don’t know any of them — yet. I can’t imagine that I’ll get through this time of coronavirus and sorrow and incomprehensible loss and criminal stupidity without knowing someone who gets ill from the virus, someone who dies — without, perhaps, falling ill or dying myself.
But whether I ever know anyone who contracts COVID-19 doesn’t matter.
While this pandemic rages, while it takes lives and destroys the health, happiness, and fortunes of thousands, of millions, of (for a while) most of us, let us witness all we can stand to witness. Let’s those of us who are fortunate enough to be able to do so, take our breaks and catch our breaths, and then, if we can, let us witness as much as we can take in. Let us learn and remember names of strangers who have died without the solace of their loved ones, of the families left to gasp and mourn. Let us remember the dead in the aggregate, the inevitable deaths and the ones that could have been prevented if more people in our government had given a damn. Let’s write letters and journals and blogs to record the losses, the emotions, the unforgivable neglect by government officials, the kindnesses of neighbours, the teachers driving through neighbourhoods to cheer the students who can’t see them at school, the sacrifices of first responders, of doctors, nurses, postal carriers, store clerks, delivery folks, volunteers — of anyone who gave more than could be expected or should have been asked.
Let’s make it personal.
Let us note too, the almost eerie benefits, the way the earth has
seized this interminable moment to clear the air, to calm the crust. Let us remember the resurgence of birds and the quieter days that didn’t grate along our nerves. Let’s give thanks for the cessation of robo-calls and phone solicitations.
And when we figure out how to live with this virus, when we have a vaccine and cure, we should remember all we can and share what we remember, for no one of us will remember it all.
We are bound to hear. And that, my friends, is what I think we owe the dead.
Inktober Prompt: Ripe
Goldspot Prompt: Terror
31 October, 2019
If you find this note, come find us. If you don’t find us, please take this note to Dr. Morgan Stone; she will want to know what happened.
How we got up this tree I hardly know. My friend Bridget and I left her house around four in the afternoon ~ late enough for the day to feel ripe in our hands. Hallowe’en has always been one of our favourite days; the evening held no terror for us.
We walked through the woods to the little hill to watch the sun set. Just as the rays turned scarlet and gold, Bridget’s father, who has been ill these many weeks, came running through the the woods on the straight path to the pond, shrieking for his daughter, angry and almost berserk. He skittered to a halt at the edge of the pond as Bridget and I tumbled down the hill, fearing for her father’s health and sanity.
Bridget and I lost sight of her papa ~ usually a dear, sweet man ~ as we ran and stumble among the trees. We burst through the trees just as a geyser reached ~ reached ~ out of the pond, poured itself over Bridget’s father, and when it dissipated, Bridget’s father was gone.
Bridget and I ran to the water, pleading with ~ we didn’t have any idea with what. Bridie kept saying, “Please, please, please…” and I just held out my hands. The water reached out again. It touched Bridie’s hair, my hands, then gathered itself together and pushed us off the pond shore. And then Bridie and I were moving through the trees. We had lost the clew we’d brought and were confused by the mist that seemed to shepherd us about.
And then I realized I had used up my energy reserve and more. Somehow we found this tree. How we got into it I don’t know. Bridie is drowsing and I don’t know what will happen now.
Oddly, I’m not afraid, but writing this out seems sensible. Dr. Morgan’s address is ——— wait;
Organics Studio Ralph Waldo Emerson Twilight Blue (Masters of Writing Collection)
This ink wash on this drawing took hours to dry, but I love the way this ink sheens. The last photo is just to show how it catches the light.
Inktober Prompt: Catch
Goldspot Prompt: Evil
30 October, 2019
• I shall sleep in to store up energy.
• You will persuade one of the doctors to stay with your father.
• In the late afternoon, we will bundle up and tell your father that we are going for a walk.
• We will set out, as did the women in the tale, heading toward the pond. Unlike them, we will tie a clew of string from tree to tree to follow back if the mist gets thick.
• Also unlike your predecessors, we will not approach the pond directly. Rather, we will climb the small hill to wait for the sunset and watch the pond. I know you expect something evil, but I remain convinced that we shall find some beneficial energy or spirit that will provide some answers to the mysteries that affect your father.
• I shall stay by you always. I know you are sure you are the bait for some kind of monster, but I shall hold you as fast as Janet did Tam Lin, and no creature shall catch you out of my hold.
And then, Bridie, we shall have to hope. The Bridget of the Book was forced to accept a curse for the future as the cost of saving her loved ones. Perhaps we shall make a better bargain.
I shall slip this plan under your door to peruse during the slumbers of
P.S. Bridie, look again at the maps. The decoration of scattered leaves ~ I think they’re TRACKS!
Inktober Prompt: Injured
29 October, 2019
All our scheming last night for naught! But your injured hand will give us time to refine our plans, and the burn is superficial enough not to delay us for more than a day or two.
Still, I wish your dear papa had not carried on as though it were the Apocalypse. It almost seemed as if he thrust the tea kettle onto your hand on purpose.
I shall write our plan later for us to review. It is my turn to be stealthy and come to your room. Save a flashlight for
(Oops. I forgot to hit the “Publish” button yesterday.)
Diamine Shimmering Ink Red Lustre
Diamine Shimmertastic Brandy Dazzle
Inktober Prompt: Ride
Goldspot Prompt: Torture
28 October, 2019
Didn’t you and Dr. Morgan give me a start, sitting by my bed, watching and waiting for me to wake up! Yet how happy I was to see you after all these weeks apart.
You told me so much on the way to your house that all I could do was ride the crest of the information wave that flowed from you. I had no chance to respond before we arrived at yours and I, of course, had to sleep again.
And now that I am awake, I find you where you where you should be ~ at your papa’s side (how glad I am to see him too, though I would he were better). I cannot talk to you freely in front of him, so I pretend to write a letter to my cousin, but I shall leave it on the escritoire for you to read while I sit with your father.
How kind it was of Dr. Torres to stay with your papa so you and Dr. Morgan could fetch me. And how fortunate it was that she found the last page of the Legends book. Now that I’ve read the story through and looked at the unexpected map on the back of that fateful final folio, I wish to talk with you more. Will you, tonight, come sneak into my room, as you did when we were children so we could read under the sheets and giggle and whisper, so that we can puzzle over the chart together? Our two heads will be more effective than the one of your
P.S. It is a small torture to have you so near, yet be unable to speak freely!
Robert Oster “Sheen and Shimmy” Black “n” Blue (the blue shimmer doesn’t show up well in the photo, but it’s there)