This open letter to the rest of the country, from an unknown author, is being widely shared on Facebook. Living in upstate New York, I wholeheartedly agree…
“I live in a part of the country that was once the epicenter of the coronavirus.
To stem the spread, we sheltered in place for three months. We didn’t go anywhere. At all. We wore masks, bandanas, neck gaiters, anything we had on hand to keep each other safe. We sewed homemade masks, held bake sales and fundraisers to buy others, and donated our own supply — because there weren’t enough for our healthcare workers and EMTs, firefighters, and police officers. We wore gardening gloves to the supermarket when we ran out of latex ones.
We crossed the street to avoid each other and kept a six foot distance. We washed our hands constantly, opened door knobs with our elbows and closed car doors with our toes, made homemade hand sanitizer, wiped down everything with Clorox and Lysol and bleach.
We isolated ourselves from each other, even though it cost us companionship and intimacy and socialization and the comfort of touch and hugs and kisses, and quite possibly, our sanity.
We stayed put because you were afraid that we would bring the virus to other states. We were terrified, and acted like we weren’t for the sake of our children.
We stayed at home even though we were furloughed, lost our jobs, had to close down businesses, and went bankrupt.
We taught our kids at home while trying to be productive as we worked from home – often in the same room, and at the same table.
Our friends and family, coworkers, neighbors, and front-line workers all died in staggering numbers. We couldn’t gather together to bury them, or to mourn.
We missed weddings, funerals, births, bar mitzvahs, 50th anniversary parties and babies’ first birthdays, graduations, Easter, Passover, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day. We cancelled the St. Patrick’s Day parade in New York City for the first time in its 150-year existence. We watched Broadway go dark, Times Square sit empty, Fifth Avenue go silent. We closed down all sporting events, missed spring training and a day at the ballpark with our dads and our kids.
We put up caution tape around neighborhood playgrounds.
We had to visit our 95 year-old mothers and fathers in nursing homes with a cold, hard pane of tempered glass between us.
We didn’t sleep for days. We cried, raged and bargained into our pillows at 3 a.m. We developed headaches, muscle tension, anxiety, and depression.
We made wills, wrote down funeral plans. We couldn’t be with our loved ones when they died alone in hospitals. We asked nurses and doctors to bend down towards their hollowed ears and whisper our children’s names and our pet names for our spouses and our everlasting love and our thankfulness that it had been them and that they had chosen us and our steadfast promises that we would be alright and that they would never be forgotten and that it was ok to let go even though it wasn’t ok at all.
We did this while you said it was just like the flu and that we were overreacting. We did this while you mocked our precautions and said it wasn’t that bad.
We did this while you drank shoulder-to-shoulder in bars, swam in crowded pools, ignored data and doctors and science for a beer and a burger.
We did this while you disputed our infection numbers and death tolls, as hazmatted men wheeled body after body into refrigerated white trucks discreetly hidden from sight in hospital parking lots.
We did this while you protested about your right to get a mani-pedi and a haircut.
We did this while you booked cruise vacations en masse, and boarded planes to take advantage of cheap fares.
We did this while you criticized our governors for their ‘overaggressive’ approach.
We did this while you sent death threats to Dr. Fauci and others in the medical field, skilled professionals who have literally taken an oath to do no harm, and who have made it their life’s work.
We did this while you coughed and spit on Starbucks and Home Depot workers getting paid by the hour. We did this while you banged on shopping mall doors, screamed at its workers, and demanded that they open for you. Because you need to shop.
And all you had to do was wear a mask.”