Last week, I woke up bright and early and realized that I was furious. William was home on vacation. The day was sunny. The dogs were healthy. There were all the ingredients to make this a happy day.
Except I was pissed.
I went upstairs to work on some editing, which usually soothes me, but I just got madder. So I hopped on Facebook, scrolled a bit and then came upon a newspaper story about how the health department had recorded the deaths of four more Pulaski Countians due to Covid.
So I read the story. And then I made the big mistake of reading the comments.
One nice lady named Ashley Dyane Homrich wrote this: “Oof. That is a lot to process. Sending so much love and compassion to all who are grieving. And gratitude to all of our healthcare and public health workers who are staying in the fight.”
Beautiful, right? But then, right underneath that was this response from a lady I’ll call Gaytha: “Was it all Covid?”
Someone else responded, “That’s what I said.”
And then Gaytha opined, “They lie to get more money.”
I couldn’t believe it. I was mad anyway and now I was enraged. Is this where we are? Is this who we are?
First off, four people, four people in our community, were dead. They weren’t from Nigeria or Australia or, bless them, Louisiana, they had lived and died right here in southeastern Kentucky. Very possibly, you’ve passed them in the grocery store at some point. They might have let you go ahead of them in line since you only had a couple of items. You might even have had a fun discussion about the quality of IGA vs. Kroger fried chicken while you were standing at the deli counter.
These people were your people. They were our people.
So, reacting in any way other than to pause and lower your eyes seems entirely inappropriate.
Secondly, it was the Lake Cumberland District Health Department who was reporting the deaths. Not the hospital. Not the governor. Not even your family physician, who, apparently, a lot of people don’t listen to anymore. (Side note: Your doctors? They’re vaccinated. More than 96 percent of American doctors are, according to a June 2021 survey from the American Medical Association.)
Anyway, no, it’s the health department — the same place that posts safety tips about summer grilling, educates you about proper food storage, announces boil advisories, yeah, that good and wholesome place — that has been charged with the not-very-fun task of keeping statistics of Covid-related deaths in our county.
I don’t know the last time you were at the health department, but last I checked, it wasn’t a palace over there. Not a lot of opulence as you walk in. Just your basic, tidy, efficient, little space whose workers have been under unbelievable stress for the past 18 months.
So, to imply that somehow the health department is benefiting from these deaths is not only staggeringly inaccurate, but astonishingly cold-hearted. What kind of mindset do you have to have, what kind of rock do you have to be living under, to make that kind of accusation in the face of, let’s remind ourselves, the deaths of four local people?
Finally, who is “they?” Please, someone, can you help me here? You hear this so constantly and often, I have to wonder why I haven’t met They yet. They sure is popular. They sure seems to know a lot. And, apparently, They must be cashing in because, god knows, there sure are a lot of people dying these days.
Oof! Listen to me. That is a lot to process. Except you know what? I was mad that day and I’m mad still. We don’t need to be here and yet we are. We don’t need to be sick and yet we are. Experts told us this was going to happen — and it has.
Next week, I promise I’ll have a column that espouses love and gratitude and a can-do attitude. But for all of you out there who are likewise mad as fire, this week is for you. In the meantime, hopefully I can get some sense knocked into me by Ashley Dyane Homrich, who, it bears noting, never responded to Gaytha.