My dad was a baseball enthusiast and a connoisseur of fried calamari and dark chocolate. He had a genius-level IQ and knew the answers to obscure Jeopardy questions. He would beat you at any trivia game. He was an avid reader, typically reading at least three books at once and still able to follow the plotline in them all. He was a history buff and a murder mystery fanatic. He was a soldier, an engineer, a former FBI analyst, a professor, a writer, and a photographer. He was a loving husband and father.
He had a sharp mind, a goofy sense of humor, a spicy temper, and a loyal heart. He loved as fiercely as he cursed.
He survived deployment in Germany, the loss of an infant child, the death of his wife, colon cancer, and my teenage years. He passed away from prostate cancer in December of 2019.
His death is still a gaping hole in my heart. I miss him every day and frequently reach for the phone to call him, only to realize I can’t. There are nights I cry myself to sleep.
But for the first time, I’m grateful that he died. In this midst of the madness surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak, I’m thankful that he never lived to see this: the greed causing individuals with plenty to hoard food and toilet paper and to sell hand sanitizer online for obscene prices; the selfishness of those refusing to distance themselves from others because it puts a damper on their social life; the callousness of those who say “it’s only the elderly who will die, and they are old anyway”; the anxiety of having his daughter on the front lines at the hospital, risking exposure.
So as you purchase that plane ticket to Hawaii because it’s ridiculously cheap, remember that even though you might not get “that sick,” you will inevitably infect someone else, and the disease will spread like wildfire. And those at high risk, like my father would have been, will undoubtedly die. So while it fortunately will not be my father that you kill, it will be someone’s father. Someone’s grandmother. Someone’s spouse. Not only that, but their loved ones will have to watch them die, as the health care system becomes overwhelmed, and there are not enough ICU beds or ventilators. And then their family members will have to live with the daily heartbreak that I do. And that, my friends, is a fate I would wish upon no one.
Christine Van Ramshorst is an obstetrician-gynecologist.
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