The day was somber. Heavy clouds scudded across an oyster-gray sky, and a chill north wind blew as friends, bid goodbye to their mother. The service was held virtually as social distancing precluded even the smallest funeral. After a brave, struggle with COVID19, Bertha was scheduled to be released. Instead, the virus, one so deadly that the CDC had no treatment, ravaged her organs, leaving her dead in three days. The irony was not lost on any of us who had followed her and her family’s journey of desperation and hope over these last many days.
The nurses came to her hospital room when they were free from their work with other patients, a loving but poor substitute for the family she loved and had spent caring for most of her life, Her family and friends were not assured that her last painful breath on earth would not be alone.
Death has freed Bertha from pain, and that comforts me. Her death is as inexplicable to me as her birth; both are part of the cycle that unites us all, makes us human, and should . . . lead us to be better people in the time in between.
I’m sad that Bertha lost her struggle. I’m sad for all loss of life that seems so random, premature, and cruel. Bertha’s death reminded me of just how tragic these deaths from this pandemic are but also how so many more can be prevented by following the rules laid out by the medical experts, by effective and moral national leadership, by a healthcare system both prepared and equitable to all.