Qia and the dark

This story is part of a series about a Balint group for angels. Balint groups are groups for physicians to get together and talk about cases that bother them. This often means facing their own biases and discriminatory feelings. I wrote this in January 2022. The current estimate of Long Covid is 10 to 30% of non hospitalized people. Which is huge and terrifying.

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“And really, it looks like at least half the population will get Omicron. The question,” says Qia, “is how much Long Haul it causes. If it causes 30-50%, like Delta, we are in serious trouble.”

The angels are silent.

“Do you think it will?”

“I am hoping for under 10%.” says Qia. “But of course I do not know.”

Silence again.

“Why do you go to WORST CASE?” snaps Algernon. His wings rustle.

Qia blinks at him slowly.

She thinks about it. “It is the safest place to start.”

Algernon frowns at her. Another angel slowly nods.

“If I start in the worst case scenario, I can face it. I have to think about it, work through it, plan for it. Then I can back off and hope for one of the less horrific scenarios.”

“You are WEIRD.” says Algernon.

Qia is annoyed. Her wings go bat and blood red.

“Word.” whispers a very young angel.

“WHY?” snaps Qia, “WHY NOT face the worst?”

“Most people never do,” says the moderator.

“What?” says Qia.

“Most people never face the worst. They don’t want to. They are terrified. They are scared. They do things to avoid thinking about it. They skip that step and just go straight to hope.”

Qia glares at her. The moderator smiles and her wings go black as pitch.

“We aren’t PEOPLE. We are ANGELS.” says Qia, nearly snarling.

Algernon laughs. “Yeah, well, some of us do not want to think about the worst either. That is Gawd(esses) job.”

Qia is doubly pissed off to be crying. “No, we have to think too.”

“Qia, I agree, but it is hard.” says the moderator. “That is why you have the job you have. Because you are willing to go straight to the dark.”

Qia has her face in her hands.

The angels surround her, soothing, and start to sing.

Conspiracy is easier than vulnerability and grief

“Our culture faces a flood of conspiracism” says the Atlantic Monthly.

My great Uncle forwards an article that says we are tracking along stages as we did to WWII.

I write back. No, I say, we are tracking towards WWI.

Because of Covid-19.

The problem with the pandemic is vulnerability and grief. It is difficult to be mature enough to accept vulnerability and grief. It is easier to find someone to blame and go after them. We can’t burn a virus, we can’t hang it in effigy, we can’t take it to court and give it the death penalty. Many people are terrified and do not want to feel vulnerable and do not want to grieve. So they fall into conspiracies: it is safer to believe that the pandemic is a lie, that alien lizards have taken over the US Government, that it is the fault of a country making it on purpose, or a race, or a religion. It is easier to believe that nanocomputers are being injected with the vaccine than to think about the number of dead. It is easier not to think about the number of dead, the terrifying randomness, to believe that this only affects people with preexisting conditions, or people who God wants to smite, or people the lizard aliens hate. Or that the whole thing is a lie.

We are mimicing the late 19 teens and early 1920s very well. A world pandemic. We have a war, that is not a world war. This time we have bombs capable of destroying current life on earth. We’d be left with tardigrades and those bacteria who live in the deep trenches in boiling water where the earth’s crust is thin. At least one of my friends thinks this might be a good thing.

We have just reached 8 billion people.

In London, the Black Death had a 50% kill rate in the 1400s. Half the people that got it died. It changed the world. Pandemics change the world. In this pandemic the death rate is about 1% or a little more. However, 10% to 30% of the people with Covid-19 have Long Covid. Today, Johns Hopkins says we are at 635 million people who have gotten Covid-19. 6.6 million or more are dead from it. Then we have between 65 million and 195 million people with Long Covid in the world.

We don’t know how long Long Covid lasts. We don’t know how to cure it. We do not know if we can cure it or if people will get better. We do not know, we do not know, we do not know.

Which is also terrifying. So the conspiracy and someone to hate or some group to hate or someone to fight is safer for many people.

Do not go there. We must grieve. We must help each other. We must face fear and not give in to it. We must not fall into the trap of the charismatic leader who will give us villains, who will lead us into a World War to distract us from our grief.

And from there into a world depression. Remember, the Roaring Twenties end with the worst depression the world has seen so far. Let us not repeat it, let us not beat it.

Peace you and blessings.

We want to believe

My cousin said to me once: “We want to believe what we want to believe.”

This was right before Mr. Trump was elected President.

After my cousin said that, I was unsurprised that Mr. Trump was elected. He was elected out of fear and anger and shame and grief. He was elected by people who are afraid that people rising out of discrimination will take things from them. Lower their standard of living. They are afraid that they will have to give things up.

A friend was working on my boat. He said that if I paid in cash, it would be less. Because, unspoken, he would not report the income. I thought about it. I said, “My medical practice is mostly medicare and state insurance. That is paid for out of our taxes: yours and mine. Therefore I am giving you a check and I don’t care if it costs more.”

There is a big culture here of not paying taxes. Cheat the government. Pay cash to each other, nod, nod, wink. It is tempting, takes a percentage off what I pay. But…. the people who I know are doing this are mostly conservative. They say drain the swamp. They say the government is cheating us. But THEY are cheating all of us.

I asked my cousin why he and my maternal family believed a story masterminded by my sister. That my father and my neice’s father and I were villains. One of the villainies was the our grandmother’s money had paid for MY graduate school but not my sister’s graduate school.

But that is not true. My grandmother paid four years of medical school tuition. 21K. I paid my own loans.

After my grandmother died, and then my mother died, my father used “my grandmother’s money” to pay off my sister’s graduate school loans. 36K. My parents also cosigned on a house, that my sister walked away from. They wrote 30K off thier taxes that year selling it. My father bailed her out of 7K on a work credit card. My father called me crying when she bullied him out of another 30K for another house. And that is when I said to her ENOUGH. I refused to visit for a year: until she went into hospice for her cancer. I visited three times while she was in hospice. We made peace. But she did not tell anyone else the truth.

I said to my cousin that I could send the bank statements showing that my father paid for my sister’s graduate school. That is when he said, “No. We want to believe what we want to believe.”

I thought really? So you want to believe my sister because she is dead. We will not speak ill of the dead, so you are ok with me and my father and my niece’s father being villainized and you will not even look at the lies.

VOTE and VOTE against FEAR, SHAME, DISCRIMINATION, ANGER AND GRIEF. We have to stand up. I loved my sister even when she was dishonest and bounced 1000$ worth of checks in my small town with people I knew. My father got threatening phone calls and he paid. That was the last straw for me.

So guess which politician stirs up fear and hate and discrimination and anger and grief? Well, honestly, both sides are guilty of that, but I stand against discrimination. We all shall rise up.

Love and Blessings and Peace you.

The photograph is on one of the last three visits to my sister. She died in March 2012.

happy

Ok, this is a weird little poem to my sister Chris, who died a decade ago. My father died thirteen months later. My mother was already dead. Mother and sister of cancer and father of emphysema, damn the Camels. There was no family slaughter, unless it was by cancer. There was a family meltdown on my mother’s side. Sometimes you have to let people go.

Sister sister mister miss her
look, Chris, I’m happy

Cancer cancer crabby dancer
look, Chris, I’m singing

Daughter daughter family slaughter
look, Chris, I’m healing

Healer healer wheeler dealer
look, Chris, no drama

Wombing wombing quiet blooming
look, Chris, I’m growing

The photograph is of a family cabin in Ontario. It is called “The New Cabin”, “Helen’s Cabin” (after my mother) or “Chris’s Cabin” after my sister. As you can see, it is suffering through neglect worsened by Covid-19. I put those screens up a decade ago, but they are not surviving the winters and the porch roof has a hole. It was a lovely porch to sleep on. I was last there in 2018, and up on that roof trying to tar holes as a temporary fix. We did not dare go on the porch roof, too late for that. Things change and fall away and sometimes we have to let them go. Especially if they are beyond repair. The photograph is taken earlier this year by the people who care for the cabins when we are not there.

down

I’ve let myself come down again

it’s not really quiet down here
whales
the earth shuddering
new mountains being born
the ebb and flow
as the earth makes love to the moon
and small bubbles

I am quiet
when I let myself
go all the way down

the ocean is not quiet, but it is dark
dark as a dungeon
damper than dew
I keep sinking

and my eyes slowly adjust
my lungs adjust too
it hurts like knives at first
but I adjust faster than i used to
like the sea lions
I can go down and get back up
no bends
I have learned from them
I hold the oxygen
and let the nitrogen out slowly
through my gut

my eyes adjust
and then they come
the glowing ones, slow and fast
like ghosts swimming towards me
maybe they are my dead
someday I will join them

I expect to return this time
maybe
or not
I don’t know if I will find pearls
or a leviathan
who will swallow me whole
and barely notice

this time I walked in
myself
I don’t blame you
or family or past or circumstances
it is time for me to go down
I go
down and down and down
deep

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only when I’m hungry (1)

sometimes
I still miss you
then I have to check
if I am hungry

I’m doing well, you see
I only miss you when I’m hungry

I’m moving on
but sometimes I still get hungry

hunger is tied up with fear
in childhood
and grief and abandonment

When you fed me
that was huge

You don’t feed me any more

Sometimes I still miss you
but only when I’m hungry

I think you’ve joined the dead
the angry dead
who didn’t feed me
and didn’t love me

or loved me during anger
and wouldn’t feed me

Sometimes I still miss you
but only when I’m hungry

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Photo taken by my friend JB.

hope molting and growing new feathers

A friend away a friend some day
a friend can’t stay all the day
a friend won’t pray a friend can’t play
not today is what they say
a friend they say a friend always
a friend who may return some day

in a way you might say
hope molts and regrows feathers today

I think my inner four year old wrote today’s poem. I am thinking about the song my mother taught me, very young, for when I was frustrated.

My sister and I loved this song and others, Samuel Hall and “I don’t want to play in your back yard, I don’t like you any more. You’ll be sorry when you see me, sliding down my cellar door.”

I gave a young friend a book of rhymes. He looked at me with some horror. “These are nursery rhymes.” I grin at him. “Look again. It’s a book of insulting playground rhymes, suitable for all occasions.” He looked at the book again and held on to it.

The photograph is from the National Museum of Women in the Arts again. Another fabulous painting that seems to fit my theme.