One of the most famous and often spoken of old movies is Gaslight. The gist of the story is that a man attempts to drive his wife insane by making her believe that things that she is seeing are not real. He almost succeeds in driving her mad and gaining control of her fortune by playing mind games with her. Ultimately his plot is foiled but not before she begins to doubt everything that she witnesses.
From the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic I felt as though I had somehow been thrust into a real life version of Gaslight. I listened to my doctors and followed the science. In doing that I became ultra precautious. I have worn masks, constantly washed my hands and disinfected surfaces, avoided contact with strangers and even mostly stayed away from family and friends. I have ordered all of my groceries from Instacart and then carefully cleansed packaging and washed produce. I slowly became willing to eat takeout food from restaurants but I have refused to go inside any of them. I get most of what I need beyond food items from Amazon or through orders that come in the mail. When I travel I do not even use public restrooms or sleep in a hotel. Instead I bring my trailer which is outfitted with everything I need to continue my self imposed quarantine. Each time I decide to be a bit braver I consult with a number of doctors and do whatever that say. In all cases they have agreed that I should continue to be very careful.
As I have followed the thinking of the scientists and medical personnel I have witnessed the president laughing at those who arm themselves with masks, insisting that only old or already sick people will be adversely affected by the virus, promising that it will miraculously go away. I have watched his rallies where more than half of the people are crowded together without benefit of masks. I have seen people that I know living their lives as though there is nothing about which to worry. I have heard my daughters complain about situations in which they and their children were mocked for playing it safe. I have heard both politicians and private citizens angrily demanding their rights to freedom from restrictions of any kind regardless of their purpose. I have heard the pandemic being called a hoax. All the while I had begun to wonder if I was in fact the one who was crazy since so much of the world around me appeared to be carrying on as usual.
I watched my aunt almost die from Covid-19. I learned of a former student who was sick for many many weeks with Covid-19. I learned of acquaintances who had died from Covid-19. Many that I knew were touched by Covid-19. It appeared to be real but the naysayers looked askance at me, as though they pitied my silly overreaction when all I was doing was acting exactly the way my doctors told me to do. It has been frustrating and confusing.
What angers me most is that it should not have ever been this way. Had everyone in our country followed the science all along most people would have been living as I have been. We would not have so many dead. We would have donned masks early. We would have consistently avoided crowds. We might never have had a second wave of the virus in the summer. We would have been better prepared for a cautious reopening of everything from businesses to schools. We would feel more confidence in slowly finding ways to return to a kind of normalcy.
Instead we now have a President and First Lady who have tested positive for Covid-19 after flaunting a lack of concern for the virus in one public venue after another. President Trump even made fun of Joe Biden during the recent debate for wearing a mask, a very big mask as he so sarcastically noted. We have a President who was briefed on the severity of the virus but chose to hide what he knew from the public. He did everything he could to make us believe that all of the warnings about Covid-19 have been overblown. He heartlessly suggested that most of the deaths only occurred because people were old or already unhealthy, writing off lives as though they were of less value because they were marred by weakness.
No more will I wonder if I have been a frightened sheep rather than an informed and precautious wise woman. I will don my mask and wear it proudly as a badge of my intelligence. I will follow science rather than worrying about snake oil salesmen trying to sell me a line of bull. I have been proven to be right all along. I am not crazy and neither are my daughters and their families. My mind is as clear as it has ever been and I pray that most of the rest of the nation will finally understand as I have that we must seek our guidance from the medical community, not from those seeking power over our lives that they do not deserve.
I would never wish illness on anyone, especially an illness like Covid-19. I will not stoop to being as low as President Trump so often is. I will pray that he and his wife will have an easy and speedy recovery. I do not expect him to change his ways. At the age of 74 it is unlikely that he will become a new man from having been proven so wrong. Nor do I believe that those who believe that he has all the answers to deal with the woes of the country will think that his illness is anything more than a fluke. I suspect that they will carry on as usual and look askance at me. I no longer care. I am armed with truth and it has set me free.