I work for the department of public health, assisting in Covid-19 vaccination outreach. I read the headlines: deaths rising, ICU beds in short supply or unavailable, breakthrough infections, younger people dying. The death toll is almost 700,000 souls in the U.S. alone.
But until last night, I didn’t get it. My family has been blessed not to be afflicted by the virus, other than getting shots and trusting our incarnation to protect us from the anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers.
Yesterday I understood viscerally the pain of the people who loved those nearly 700,000 Covid victims, because of my sister’s near-death from a tragic accident.
Last night, my younger sister had emergency surgery. She had fallen down a hill and driven a stick through her frontal lobes. After a long medevac from her home on an island in northern Maine, she has come through emergency surgery in Portland, responsive and heavily sedated. There is damage to her frontal lobes, (extent not yet determined), but her motor skills are good.
I stayed up all night waiting for news. I was giving vaccinations at a Black church when I got the first news of the accident. I didn’t handle it well, shaking and feeling sick to my stomach with worry and fear. The pastor and two parishioners at the church grabbed me and prayed with me. Quite an experience for a Jew. Just a bit overwhelming to be embraced by three large people praying in Jesus’ name—especially on the eve of Yom Kippur. However, I was extremely grateful to be in the arms of caring people.
The text came this morning before dawn. I was playing Mi Shabeirach on my phone, the Hebrew prayer of healing. My sister has survived surgery; now we can only hope that she will not suffer terrible consequences from the damage done.
In those dark and awful moments, I knew fear, loss, and grief. I understood the horror of Covid. We can’t protect ourselves from accidents like my sister Sunnie’s but, damn, we have the means to stop Covid.