On a COVID Beach Walk

So Frank has decided to commandeer my blog for a beach walk, like in those cop shows when the dude waves his badge in the middle of the street and rides off with some poor schlep’s Mid-size?

Okay maybe not. Instead Imma call this a friendly visit from Frank “Beaches” Angle, who is going to try his damndest to class up the joint for a spell with one of his beach walks. I warned him that I’m beyond help, but he’s just not having it, so there’s that.

Anyways, enjoy the walk!

Click the video above for 2 minutes of background waves while reading.

I like to walk on the beach. It is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

Today, I walk with a heavy heart. I think about one year ago – late February 2020 –  a time when we were entering our final week as snowbirds at the beach – doing things for the last time before returning to our northern home. COVID had entered the USA, but life for my relatives in Italy had already ground to a halt.

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A year ago was a time when some proclaimed the virus contained in the USA; passing through like the wind, therefore limiting cases to a handful of 20-25. A year ago was a time when some dismissed COVID cases compared to the flu.

A year ago, we saw reports of overwhelmed Italian hospitals and the beginning of the assault on New York City. We were preparing for our two-day journey home where my wife would have a few days to reorganize before departing on her annual cruise with her friends – leaving the husbands behind to fend for themselves.

During her week away when Ohio and other states went into lockdown – a time when people ravaged grocery stores and stocked up on paper and cleaning products. After seeing televised reports, my wife would call from a port to ask what was going on. Her ship made it back and hasn’t had passengers since she disembarked. She told me of the ship’s precautions and the crazed behaviors she observed at the airport.

As I draft this one year later, the death toll in the USA just passed 500,000. Yes, the USA – a country that is 4% of the world’s population having over 20% of the world’s pandemic deaths. 

I think about my time here at the beach one year later – fewer snowbird renters, restaurants are not busy, and fewer people in stores. The great music venue only 300 steps away is a regular place for us, but a place we never entered this year.

I think about my cousins in Italy who spent months in their apartment; and only allowed to leave for necessities. Only one of them going to a market where they may have to wait in line to enter; and then have a limited time to shop.

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I think about how a democracy can be messy. Too many Americans declaring a violation of rights based on Constitutional principles they misinterpret. People with countless reasons to justify a position – reasons that may be valid or invalid. Elected officials politicizing human health and general welfare – something that is still difficult for me to grasp.

I think about those who said they are living in a Communistic state. I wonder if the Czechs in the 1940s would agree when the Allies handled their democracy to the Nazis on a silver platter. What would the same Czechs say after the Soviet occupation took hold after the war – a control lasting over 40 years. 

I think about those who provided simple solutions as, “We have to learn to live with this virus.” Isn’t that what masking does? Is that the role of social distancing? Isn’t that getting a vaccine to everyone as quickly as possible? Isn’t that choosing to take the vaccine?

Over 500,000 Americans, gone in a year. Yes, a small percentage of our total population – but still, a half a million with tens of thousands more on the near horizon – and so many died alone.

I think about how the past year has ripped away something for everyone – yet, I laughed when American late-night host Jimmy Kimmel said at the beginning of Lent – (I paraphrase) – What is left to give up for Lent?

Over 500,000 people – gone – family members, friends, neighbors, co-workers to someone. Advocates, givers, and jokesters – the athletic, the artistic, the organizers, and the doers – the rich and the poor – the famous and the ordinary – the empathetic and the selfish – the nice and the mean – the positive and the negative – the young and the old – the humble and the egotistic – gone.

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Over 500,000 people –  more than the cumulative USA battlefield casualties of major wars. People with quiet integrity and huge hearts. People whom we’ve never met. People that we would be proud to know.  Gone – and most with a limited funeral at best. 

I think about a higher number – those losing their job during the pandemic – some of those jobs never to return. Food banks, present to help the needy, but with new demands stressing their supply. Cheers to the many who stepped forward to help the supply – but the demand continues. 

In a conversation last summer, I asked this question: What have we learned? But, I wonder if people can answer that question beyond their political bias. One year later, after turning life in the world upside down – after a year of many losses – I occasionally still ask that one question, but seldom get a thoughtful answer.  

On the plus side, it’s been a year of celebrating health care workers, although we may not understand their stress. We celebrate that science works – although many still don’t understand it. We celebrate that kindness still works – even something as simple as checking on someone. 

I think about how every one of us lost numerous opportunities and precious time. Some of us have handled it better than others. Then again, the selfish are seldom happy.

Yes, my heart is heavy today. Like many others, I reminisce of better times and hope for better days ahead. On the other hand, I’m still standing on the upward side of the grass; healthy and walking on the beach – which is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.