Sad and angry
Iím saddened. And Iím angry.
Iím saddened because a friend lost his father over the weekend to complications from COVID-19, while another friendís mother fights for life on a ventilator in a Missouri hospital.
The friend who lost his dad Saturday night is a former reporter at the Pine Bluff newspaper, a law school graduate who spent some time working in the Middle East and pays close attention to international affairs. He was aware of the COVID-19 pandemic long before it reached the United States, and he was the first person I saw sound the alarm on social media.
My friend and his family were fully aware of the dangers of COVID-19 and they took every precaution. Still, it wasnít enough to save his elderly father. Already battling Parkinsonís disease, my friendís dad was too weak to fight the virus and eventually developed pneumonia. He seemed to be improving a bit each day but in the end his body failed him.
Having lost both of my parents, I know all too well the anguish my friend is feeling right now. I also know all too well that there is nothing I or anyone else can say or do to ease his pain.
I feel the same sort of helplessness when I think of my other friend whose mom is fighting the virus right now. Heís a newspaper editor in southeast Missouri and a former co-worker and roommate. His mom celebrated her birthday on Sept. 1 and two weeks later was admitted to the hospital with COVID-19. She went on a ventilator a couple days later and my friend was told that the best-case scenario would be two weeks before she can come off the machine.
My friendís mom raised him without a husband, in her parentsí home. He lost his grandfather a few years ago, then endured the death of his wife from a heart attack. If that wasnít enough, he lost his job a few months later. Thankfully, he landed on his feet with a new job not far from his mom. Now, though, he faces the possibility of another loss.
My heart aches for my friend and all heís been through. I worry, too, about how much more he can withstand. I want to help him, to somehow make it better, but I canít.
The more I think about the suffering that COVID-19 has caused for people I care about, the angrier I get about people who donít seem to care about anyone but themselves.
My friendsí situations are a microcosm of the pandemic ó a plague that has killed 199,000 Americans. And still there are people across the country and even right here in Carroll County who insist that thereís no need to wear a mask, no need to avoid large gatherings, no need to do anything at all to attempt to slow the spread of the virus.
When we report on COVID-19ís impact in Arkansas, when we share the news that more than 1,000 people in our state have died, weíre accused of ďfear-mongering.Ē
That attitude is absolutely infuriating. Itís an insult to all the people who have lost their lives to the virus, and to all the people theyíve left behind. But my anger is matched by a sense of pity for those people who canít muster an ounce of empathy for their fellow man. What a tortured existence that must be.