March 2020 has been the month from hell. It’s as if the Ides of March came and never left. I’ve already admitted how hard it is for this lifelong news junkie to follow the news. The bad news has been relentless. COVID-19 has gotten so bad that even the Impeached Insult Comedian finally admits that it’s not “fake news” cooked up to deny him a second term. But there will be backsliding. He cannot help himself.
On a personal level, things feel equally bleak. I usually try not to let things that I cannot control bother me. The pandemic has me jittery and rattled. I try to put a brave face on things but it’s hard not to feel numb and empty.
Here’s why I feel empty: My favorite cousin died at a hospice in Flower Mound, Texas on Monday. I’m glad we got to see her earlier this month. It was a whirlwind trip during which I caught the stomach bug I mentioned here. I did not mention my worry that it was COVID-19 caused from hanging out in a nursing home for the better part of two days. It was not. But I had more than a few sleepless nights and remain jittery about exposing my immune system to any risks. Additionally, I have a normal body temperature that ranges from 99.5 to 100 on a hot day. That’s why I’m not going anywhere they might stick a thermometer in my mouth.
A few words about my late first cousin. She was one of the kindest people I’ve ever known. She was more like a sister than a cousin. My parents are dead, and I’m estranged from my sisters so losing my cousin is like losing the last link to my nuclear family.
I’m one of the younger members of my generation of my extended Greek family. My cousin was 75 and finally lost a 25 year battle with cancer. Her son moved her to a facility closer to his home to make it easier to visit. Then came the nursing home lockdown. In her bleaker moments, my cousin said the only reason she wanted to live was to see her family. I believe she gave up because of the lockdown. Many elderly New Orleanians died in the first year after Hurricane Katrina and the Federal Flood. Like my cousin, they lost the will to live.
If you have elderly loved ones in assisted living or a nursing home, remember to stay in close touch even though you can’t visit. Human contact is important, if you can’t physically touch one another, you can talk on the phone. And I say that as someone who dislikes talking on the phone. My late cousin was okay with that, I’d speak briefly to her, then hand the phone to Dr. A. My cousin always said, “He’s just like Uncle Lou.” In that regard, I suppose I am.
I’m trying to keep a stiff upper lip and put the best possible face on things without being in denial. It’s not an easy balancing act. I’m lucky because I’m married to a wonderful woman whose family nickname is “the representative of the world of science.” She’s good at keeping a cool head while the rest of the world is freaking out.
Finally, I try to maintain what Paul McCartney and Elvis Costello called My Brave Face.
Now that I’m alone again
I can’t stop breaking down again
The simplest things set me off again
And take me to that placeWhere I can’t find my brave face.
It’s a breakup song but it works by analogy.
The last word goes to Macca: