Susannah Colt: Let us remember the victims of COVID

For the Monitor
Published: 12/20/2020 6:20:59 AM

Have you noticed an increase in the number of obituaries published in the past couple of weeks? We know that the number of deaths due to COVID-19 has sky rocketed in New Hampshire, but for some reason COVID is not listed as the cause in Concord Monitor obituaries. Even Speaker Dick Hinch’s obituary on Dec. 13 merely states: “passed away at his home.”

I believe that if more names were attributed to death from COVID and the stories of their lives were shared, the reality of the pandemic would be brought home more fervently and people might take it more seriously.

I certainly understand a desire for privacy, especially during such a tragic and personally wrenching time. But is this really the time to remain silent?

Every Friday on PBS NewsHour, Judy Woodruff narrates the stories of five people who have died from COVID. It is impossible to sit through the “In Memoriam” segment without shedding tears. Parents, pastors, teachers, children, siblings, doctors, essential workers, artists, grandparents, aunts, uncles, young, middle-aged, old, and ancient; the lists goes on and on. Every death touches the hearts and souls of so many people.

Every Friday after I wipe away the tears, I feel a sense of rage at the senseless deaths and destruction caused by the pandemic. I also feel guilty about the fact that I have not been personally touched by any of the 300,000 tragic deaths so far.

But then, when I learned the news about Speaker Hinch’s death, it hit home. No, I did not know him personally, but because he was a political leader and a public figure, I felt a sense of connection and sadness.

Who can forget when HIV/AIDS reared its ugly head in the 1980s? Because the population that was primarily becoming infected was on the fringes of society and less acceptable, hardly anyone took note of it. Then famous people like Rock Hudson, Anthony Perkins, Robert Reed, Greg Louganis, and Magic Johnson got infected. Ryan White contracted the virus through a blood transfusion. People started to pay attention. The activists trying to raise awareness about the virus adopted the slogan “Silence = Death.” People learned through educational campaigns that HIV could be prevented by using a condom or abstaining from sex.

In this current pandemic, scientists have concluded that wearing masks are one way to prevent the catching of coronavirus. It is not like HIV, where you can alter your behavior to prevent catching it. COVID is spread through the air. We cannot stop breathing. We also cannot stay silent about the severity of this disease and ignore the simple prophylactic of wearing masks.

Perhaps if we knew more about the people who have died of this despicable virus, the more people would pay attention and act more responsibly.

I’ve done a little more research about Dick Hinch through reading the “Memories & Condolences” on the Legacy website.

Dick had a “warm smile and immense generosity.” He was a great leader “willing to listen and work with everyone” no matter the differences. Weekends and summers were spent at the camp enjoying family time, playing games, and riding in the boat. He was a mentor who offered “solid guidance, strong friendship & help with problem resolution.” “He loved Sundays at the beach, breakfast at the Village Eatery, and a well-deserved bowl of chocolate ice cream at the end of the day.” A surrogate father to his niece, she wrote about how he was inclined to embarrass her “by bursting out these crazy dance moves in public.”

That, in my opinion, about sums it up. Anyone willing to burst into crazy dance moves should never have been susceptible to such an insidious virus as the one we are dealing with now. I offer my sincere condolences to all of Dick’s family and friends.

May his death not be in vain. Please wear masks in honor of Dick Hinch, and stay safe.

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




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