Susannah Colt: And the world grows darker still

For the Monitor
Published: 1/5/2021 6:20:27 AM

A paradigm shift occurs when COVID-19 crosses the threshold of your home and heart.

Until Dec. 26, I had been spared the anguish of personally knowing someone who had died from the dreaded COVID. But then a text popped up on my phone from a friend I’ve known for over 24 years: “Mom just died from covid, earlier today. Alone in the hospital. Damn covid.”

Ten days earlier, I was attending a Zoom birthday/Christmas tree decorating party for the same friend. She informed us that she had just gotten off the phone with a family member informing her that Mom had fallen down the stairs and after a short stint in the hospital would be going into rehab. There was a clear sense of dread in her voice. She wondered whether her mother would ever come home from rehab.

In an attempt to lift the veil of sorrow so we could proceed with the party, she added that she was comforted by the fact that there were so many family members close in distance to her mother that she was not worried. They would take care of her.

My friend’s mom had radiance about her, like an angel. Her smile was grand and perpetual, surrounded by a halo of perfectly coiffed blond hair. It is impossible to imagine that her heartbeat has ended considering how huge and strong it had been for 83 years. Her heart beat in synchronicity with her husband’s for 62 years. Together they brought three baby heartbeats into this world who carried on the tradition and brought four more baby heartbeats into the world. This was a family that was so close-knit that nearly all of them lived within a block of each other, and they were always there for each other.

But the tragedy runs deeper because a virulent killer penetrated the protective shield of a family’s love. Now the family will collectively merge their broken hearts to help each other recover from the loss of their beautiful matriarch.

Falling down the stairs should not have been a death sentence. Dying alone in a hospital or nursing home is antithetical to proper health care. Sadly, in the era of COVID it is a regular occurrence leaving the survivors unable to properly process, grieve, and recover. Not just the survivors, but the caregivers, nurses, and doctors, whose hands are tied by the virus and become the substitute family members and watch as their patients die one after another, ad infinitum.

I am angry and sad. New Hampshire has passed 700 deaths. The surge of over 200 deaths in December alone has taken mostly the elderly and residents of nursing homes, like the Veterans Home in Tilton.

The stories being written about those deaths are hard to read. The transmission of the disease is typically from people coming in from the outside and infecting the unsuspecting residents. Why is this still happening when there are ways to prevent it?

If by writing this story I am able to convince someone who considers the virus to be a hoax to reconsider their thinking, then I will have done my job. If someone who refuses to wear a mask realizes that their actions could actually be contributing to the increase in deaths and decides to finally wear a mask in public, keep their distance from others, and stop congregating in large crowds, then I will have done my job.

My friend’s mom collected children like shells from the beach, one of her favorite places. She made everyone feel mothered, loved, and protected. Another shining star has been extinguished. The world gets darker and darker every day. Damn COVID.

(Susannah Colt lives in Whitefield. She can be reached at susannahbcolt@gmail.com.)


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