I am convinced that children and teens are super spreaders of disease. When I was still teaching I came down with a horrific cold every November or December. I would be so congested that it was difficult to swallow and I’d go through multiple boxes of tissue. Generally it all devolved into a croupy cough that hurt when I tried to expel air from my lungs. I almost always had a slight fever with my colds and ended up nursing my symptoms in bed for days. I found Nyquil to be a godsend, allowing me to sleep without waking up from my nasal passages becoming stuffed with a rapid drip from my sinuses. To say that my head hurt is an understatement because even my teeth were affected. Sometimes it felt as though every single one of my pearly whites were going to fall from my mouth. Only rest and lots of chicken soup seemed capable of bringing me back to life.
Once I retired from teaching I rarely had those annual bouts with a cold. I still get allergies each fall but they are nothing compared to the symptoms I experienced from the disease I no doubt picked up from my students. It was a welcome relief to no longer wait for my winter illness to arrive. I felt almost bullet proof without exposure to young ones.
The sickest I ever felt was when I contracted the swine flu from my students. I am not exaggerating when I say that there were moments when I literally wondered if I was going to die from the virus. I reached a temperature of one hundred three degrees, something I do not recall happening at any other time in my life. I slept for hours and lost track of day and night and even time itself. Only when I had hepatitis and measles did I even come close to the kind of symptoms brought on by that horrific flu.
For these reasons I honestly feel unimaginable empathy for those who contract Covid-19. This virus has the potential to become more deadly than anything I have ever experienced and can lead to unimaginable symptoms. I’ve read accounts from survivors who said that they actually felt as though they were drowning as they fought to catch a breath of air. As someone who has a real phobia of confined spaces that make it difficult to get enough oxygen there may be no greater fear. In fact my worst nightmare is to either drown in a car that has gone off of a bridge or to be inside a burning building gasping for air.
I realize that the vast majority of people who get Covid-19 are sick for a time and then recover nicely without having the most serious complications or dying, but to dismiss the virus and flaunt its impact is incredibly unfeeling and disrespectful towards the millions across the globe who have suffered and even died from this horrific disease. Those fortunate enough to have few negative outcomes should be thankful, not boastful. Our humanity demands that we never forget those for whom this pandemic has been an indescribable tragedy. It would be outrageous for any of us to simply scoff at the impact of the virus on society.
As far as I can see we are one world in the battle to get Covid-19 under control. It matters not who started the chain of events nor where someone who dies is living. We are all brothers and sisters right now, or at least we should be. Our efforts should not focus on only ourselves and our personal needs but on the good of all humankind. Each of us should be willing to do whatever is deemed necessary to bring a halt to the destruction, death and disruption that the pandemic has caused. If that means staying and home and foregoing an old fashioned family Christmas, then so be it. If it means wearing masks wherever we go, then we should consider it our patriotic and religious duty to comply. If it means thinking of those in need and sacrificing some of our own wants to help, then we should all be happy to do our parts.
If Covid 19 has not affected your family or friends count your blessings, but do not deny that it exists. If you have been able to carry on as though there is no danger, think of how lucky you have been and start being more cautious today. I keep hearing people insisting that we just need to live life and let God take care of us, and yet the leader of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis, is urging us to demonstrate compassion and understanding for all of those who are suffering from the effects of Covid-19. He tells us that it is our Christian duty to do whatever is necessary to help our fellow men and women. This, he says, must be our top religious priority right now.
Maybe we want to keep that nice restaurant down the street in business. We don’t have to go sit inside and run the risk of catching and then spreading the virus. We can regularly pick up food instead. Maybe we feel the importance of religion right now, but we can pray in our homes and watch services online so that we do not risk the health of ourselves, our families, or those around us. Maybe we miss those Christmas parties that we have always enjoyed, but we can settle instead for a Zoom conference just for one year.
Let us get out of ourselves and into the hearts and minds of others. Keeping Christ in Christmas this year may actually mean following his example of unconditional love and sacrifice. He was willing to die to save us. Perhaps He now expects us to demonstrate our love and a willingness to make small, sacrifices for the good of all. Maybe this is what Christmas was always supposed to be.