Around this time one year ago, I remember reading a news article speculating that this new thing called coronavirus could kill about 70 million Americans.
I sat up in my chair. I read the sentence again. Did some quick mental math. There are some 325 million people in America. Seventy million is a lot of people.
The chances of this virus killing me, my wife, my kids, my sisters and brothers, and friends seemed quite possible.
This was serious. What were we in for? Why does stuff like this have to be happening? Why now? Why so much to worry about?
Then I remember reading an article about a crowd of people cramming into a high school basketball gym in some state in the Midwest. There was some concern among the people there that fans shouldn’t be getting together in close quarters, but they knew so little about the danger of the virus to really take the warning seriously. It was too early for the enormity of the problem to have sunk in.
The game went out. Soon thereafter, six men who went to that game were dead.
Then I found out my son was coming home from college because the campus was shutting down.
The world was changing so fast. What the hell was going on?
Everything was going on. None of it was good.
Then I saw images of some outdoor food markets in China where news outlets were reporting the virus may have originated. Something about a bat infecting an animal and someone eating the animal meat.
Then they got sick. And died. And they infected other people. And other people.
Then there were images of people singing outside apartment windows in Italy because they had to stay inside because people in that country were dying so fast it was terrifying.
They seemed to be singing as a way to cope, wondering if they were going to get infected and die themselves.
I had never seen anything like this in my life.
None of us had.
The news got worse. And worse. And worse.
A female doctor working on the front lines in a hospital in New York City, seeing all this madness, one day drove out of town and committed suicide.
This all happened one year ago. You know.
You lived this experience. Could anything have been more strange than what happened to the world one year ago?
It was like a tidal wave crashing down on all of us, causing us to fight and swim to survive. At times many of us have felt like life is trying to drown us.
The water was ferocious, unrelenting.
If I would have told you two years ago that all of us would live through the worst health care crisis the world has gone through in 100 years in 2020, not only would you not believe me. You probably wouldn’t even know what a pandemic was. Now we all know the meaning of the word.
It would have been like saying two years from now an earthquake would shake the very foundations of all seven continents and create widespread ruin, disruption, and death.
Unthinkable. Could never happen.
But the unthinkable did happen. We thought it wouldn’t – in fact we hardly even fathomed it. But we thought wrong.
Out of the sky, or from some rat, or from somewhere we’ll probably never know, this unbelievably diabolical phenomenon ripped up the world. Country by country, continent by continent.
It all began around this time one year ago.
This wasn’t some freakout movie we saw and said “wow, that was awfully frightening.” It wasn’t a book we read that went to the top of the New York Times bestseller list because of its sheer tragic theme of apocalyptic explosions of utter horror.
No, it happened.
During our lives. Last year. Not a century ago, a year ago.
In our country, in our states, in our communities, to our families and friends.
So many people died. So many who thought one year ago they would be alive right now.
I have often thought as this year has gone by about the infinite number of hours each of us has spent alone since this crisis crashed through our front windows.
You’ve been alone more, I suspect than in any year of your life. So have I.
We’ve found ways to cope. We’ve watched lots of TV and read books and written. My sister started painting. I have a friend who did a bunch of projects around his house. My son read books.
I mostly wrote to fill the hours.
It’s something I like to do. But I haven’t written much about what’s really gone on, the worldwide health crisis. It’s been too much to process. Sharp analytical thinking gets overtaxed by this problem and fumes out.
My brain can’t really get thoughts out and make sense of it. It’s just too much information, too big a problem. Our lives are too much in jeopardy. What this will do to our lives over the next few years is so undetermined and thorny that I don’t want to even think about it.
So I coped by focusing on other subjects that aren’t so unsettling like sports.
I wrote a book during the pandemic. It’s a book of sports stories that began one year ago when Tom Brady announced he was leaving the New England Patriots. This was just about one year ago. Though the events had nothing to do with each other, I’ll always remember the pandemic started about when Brady left the Patriots.
And that’s when I started writing about Brady.
Day after day, it was Brady this and Brady that, Belichick this and Belichick that.
The stories came out, some dumb, some funny, some good, some that didn’t work. The good part was that writing them got me to focus my mind on something specific that made me giggle sometimes as I typed and that enlivened my soul, somehow gave me hope. This felt better than trying to unpack a collapsing healthcare system, economy, and world.
It was humor that got me through. Silliness, ridiculousness, fantasy, made-up stuff just to make up stuff, anything to laugh and avoid thinking about the real stuff going on.
It felt better to laugh than cry.
Sammy Sportface, a sports blogger, galvanizes, inspires, and amuses The Baby Boomer Brotherhood. And you can learn about his vision and join this group's Facebook page here:
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