I don’t think I’ve attended as many wakes or funerals as I did the past year. It’s not all been to pandemic, in fact, the deaths due to Covid have been mercifully rare — only two among my close acquaintances, thank goodness — though it’s hard to say the prevailing environment hasn’t at least played an indirect cause in the others. Still, those who’ve passed from the virus loom large in my mind.
The first was an acquaintance, Mrs. T–. She was a friend of my wife. She was in her early 60s, which isn’t too old (or so it seems to me now) but she was in the at-risk category because she had diabetes. The family said they had taken all the precautions, quarantining at home during the lockdown period. But then, a shopping trip to buy clothes for her soon-to-arrive first grandchild, perhaps a moment of absent-minded carelessness…or perhaps from her daughter who was a doctor…. That’s the thing, isn’t it? We can’t ever really be sure where we get it.
The second was our old grade school teacher, Mrs. O–, in her 70s, and also in the at-risk category because of diabetes. Again, hard to say how she caught it, though one strong possibility was an ill-advised reunion of retired faculty at our high school. How it came about: the homecoming batch of this year had raised a fair amount, and since there wouldn’t be a big bash this year, they decided to give out cash assistance to their old teachers. Unfortunately, instead of simply handing it out, they made a small affair of it at school.
I can’t imagine the regret and self-recrimination! Still, doubts linger. Mrs. O– was the only one who came down with the virus (still, such anxiety for the rest, waiting out the course if symptoms would show.) Perhaps, it came from a family member, who brought it home as they did their daily business. Again, with this virus, it’s hard to tell.
As for the others: I’ve had three friends closer to my age pass, one from an aneurysm and two from heart conditions. R– collapsed while biking in Cebu; D– died in his sleep. It makes me strongly consider my own mortality, more acutely aware of every shortness of breath. (Please, Lord, not yet! Not when you’ve just given my wife and I a daughter.)
And the last category: plain and simple old age, taking the fathers of my friends (oddly enough, it’s all been fathers.) Four in all last year. Even as I expressed my sympathies, I had to admire the fortitude of my friends, who seemed to take it all calmly and resolutely, even as the mantle of responsibility of the family passed on to them. (God grant me strength for when such time comes, but please, not for a long while yet!)