The accidental plague diaries need to go tangential tonight, not because Covid 19 has been beaten, or even been beaten back much (despite politicians hankering for everything to open up). The US cases broke one million today and the number of dead broke 58,000, essentially exactly the same as the number of Vietnam War casualties. It’s for selfish reasons. When my emotions go into turmoil, long term readers know I start writing stream of conciousness in order to process and those who are interested come along for the ride and those who aren’t stop reading and keep scrolling to the next cat video or political meme.
I know what the cause is this time around. It’s not work stress (although there’s plenty of that), It’s not isolation cabin fever (going to work regularly has helped keep that from settling in). It’s the date. Two years ago today, in the wee hours of the morning, I got one of those phone calls you don’t want to get. Tommy, who had been finally beginning to recover from serious heart problems after six weeks in the hospital, unexpectedly died in the night. I had steeled myself for the possibility of his death over the preceding weeks given the seriousness of his previously undiagnosed heart issues, but he fought back valiantly, full of plans for the future. The last time I saw him alive, he was making notes on wigs for Beauty and the Beast which was coming up that June. I hadn’t expected it that night, thinking that if he was going to die, that there would be a steady downhill course and time to prepare. It was not to be.
So, April 28th is now to me, a day of unrealness, of having to tell his family, of quickly having to make funeral and burial arrangements, and of having to begin contemplating aging alone, rather than with a loving, enthusiastic, exasperating and unconventional partner in crime. I know the date will lose it’s meaning eventually from experience. I always remember Steve’s birthday and our anniversary when they roll around every year, but I often don’t remember his death day until several days after it’s past. It’s lost its meaning with time as his illness and death recedes in my mind in favor of our years of heatlh and adventure. i know the same thing will happen with Tommy with time; it’s just a little too early.
I think this was my 7th weekend in isolation. It followed the same pattern as most of the others. Catching up on work undone from the week. Doing some writing. A couple of long walks through the neighborhood. A little more sorting of decades worth of accumulated possessions in preparation for the move. I did add a couple of constructive moments to the usual – getting together with Holly McClendon who’s acting as my moving coordinator (I can take no time off from work prior to June for various reasons so someone else has to deal with all the little niggling details) and having Debbie Wiatrak take a look at the new space together with her artistic daughter and giving me some ideas on colors. I think I’ve made final selections. Bolder than the pastels in this house, but not quite as wild as the range of colors Tommy chose for the old one. I have to come up with a name for the new place. I’ve named all my houses. The first thing that came to mind was Covid Corners but I’m not sure that’s the best idea.
I watched the on line Sondheim 90th birthday concert last evening. I had tried to watch it on Sunday but the technical glitches that led to the delay in broadcast meant that I fell asleep about the time it started so I had to wait until Monday after work. Such electronic gatherings may be the future of theater in the short term. I hope not because so much of theater depends on the connection between performer and audience and you just don’t get that in an electronic medium (and why I really don’t like watching theatrical performance on film – it always feels like something is missing.) It was worth the delay and I’m glad I was able to see it. Sondheim’s music has been so much the soundtrack of my entire adult life that any celebration, or new interpretation of the canon always brings me joy. But it was mixed with sorrow, especially Brandon Uranowitz’s performance of ‘With So Little To Be Sure Of’. It’s a song that’s always been dear to my heart and one that always come to mind when I think of my losses. To hear it performed so well when I was preparing myself emotionally for the anniversary of Tommy’s passing hit me and I must confess I cried for a couple of minutes. But the song also applies to this entire moment we’re all going through: “Crazy business this, this life we live in. Can’t complain about the time we’re given. With so little to be sure of in this world…”
I, of course, am not the only person to lose a loved one. There’s a lot of that going around at the moment. Each unique individual loss, whether its Covid or something more mundane, leaves a hole in the tapestry of life and the edges start to unravel. Only a combination of time and other people knit it back up. We all have time at the moment but there’s a dearth of other people. It took a small army of friends, family , and colleagues to get me through my losses with dinners, coffee dates, phone calls, post rehearsal chats, and all the rest of that and I feel so for those who lose someone at this moment of history who can’t draw on those resources in the same way. No gathering at a wake or funeral to share memories and tell outrageous stories, no losing oneself in a crowd reminding oneself that life goes on, no getting down and playing with groups of children as a reminder of the cycles and continuity of the process of life. If you have lost someone recently or know someone who has, my heart goes out.
I’ll try to go back to something a bit more health and science related in the next entry but I needed to get some of this off my brain. If anyone has a particular subject you’d like me to explore, let me know.
In the meantime, be well, be safe, wash your hands.