Just Die

Securing our safety belts, the Sisterhood exited Laura and Erma’s parking space to embark on a road trip through and to Trump territory (terror-tory), 61 miles away, for our first COVID jab. Three weeks later, we repeated the trip for our second injection. This was Laura and Erma’s longest drive in over a year. Not mine. In mid-January, I went to Brooklyn with my son H, daughter-in-law V, and grand-doggie Echo.

Minutes out, heading to Brooklyn, H, V, and I stopped at a COVID test site. I’d heard stories about the test, the discomfort, that someone’s nasopharyngeal swab was so intrusive a cerebral fluid leak occurred. I watched as H and V were tested—to see if either registered pain and saw only a slight grimace and teary eyes. My turn. Not bad enough to induce my hair-trigger vasovagal syncope, however, the nurse turned, walked back to me, and said, “I’m sorry. I dropped your swab. It’s the first time this has happened to me, and I’ve done hundreds of these tests. I’m going to have to swab you again.”

“Shit.”

To avoid hotspots, like rest-areas, I’d bought a travel urinal. Is it too much info to tell you that I peed myself without actually missing the urinal? When I moved the urinal away from my body, I tilted it backward, a tad too much, spilling the contents.

We met my other son J, his partner, and my grandsons outside, distancing, until H, V, and I received “no virus present” confirmation. We then were allowed in their apartment.

You may wonder why I took this trip. Two reasons. I not only wanted to visit my Brooklyn family, but also because I don’t want to become inured to COVID inertia, allow it to define the remainder of my life. Some of my friends, those who’ve hardly left their home since COVID first was reported in the US, now say they’re reluctant to drive very far, reluctant to do much of anything. And this isn’t merely the fear of a deadly infection, it’s age and insecurity.

After that second Pfizer vaccine, Laura, Erma, and I felt exhilarated. Despite the questions regarding efficacy against emerging variants and vaccine protection duration, we aren’t pessimistic.

I picture Trump, denying the severity of the disease. No worse than seasonal flu, he said. I see him without a mask, ignoring science even after he was diagnosed with COVID and then hospitalized. I see him with a case so significant he almost required a ventilator. I see his rectum-like mouth as he repeatedly called COVID the Kung flu, a label resulting in attacks on Asians.

I see yellow, crime-scene tape encircling more than 500,000 bodies.

Recently, I admitted to my primary care doctor that I’m a horrible person. Horrible because when I learned that Trump had COVID, I was elated, giggly. After all, in an audio clip, he’d disclosed to Bob Woodward that he downplayed the seriousness of the disease. His words: “This is deadly stuff.” And: “Now it’s turning out it’s not just old people, Bob…It’s not just old, older, young people, too, plenty of young people.”

Sure, I’d rejoice to see Trump, the fascist, white nationalist brute, convicted of murder, not only the murder of more than 500,000 people dead from COVID but also those who died during and after an insurrection that he incited. Yet what I prefer is that the diet sodas, greasy fries, and buckets of factory-farmed chicken clog the hell out of his arteries and result in a massive, killer stroke within a month of his incarceration.

Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail: missybeat@gmail.com

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