I started yesterday morning with a Leap of Faith at sunrise in the fog in a nearby cemetery where I ride my bike frequently, however grim that may seem. I go there (and other cemeteries) because they are safe places to ride my bike, and much-needed meditation during these challenging times comes quick and deep there.
As always, I peruse the headstones, wondering particularly about the people who were buried recently.
There’s Marcelino and Inmanuel and Juana, who were about my age.
There’s Kazaira, Diana, and José, who were closer to my daughters’ ages, and Brigida somewhere in between.
There are the gifts of oranges and water and beer and candy. The candles and crosses and now-lifeless balloons. The fresh mounds still under their burial canopies, their roses still bursting with fragrance.
And there are inscriptions that give just a little more glimpse into the person but leave me with more questions, such as Karine who was apparently “a free-spirited mother and wife.” How was she free-spirited? How?
I always look up a few names when I come home, in order to read their obituaries (if I find them, which is actually rare) or sometimes, like with Brigida, their news stories (she was murdered by her boyfriend), in order to honor their memory for just a brief moment or two.
This is a grim enough thing to do, but somehow feels necessary to me during this year of death as we all struggle to hold on to life.
Yesterday, additional grim news came. It is an update from the mayor of my Metro Atlanta city.
Mayor Lynn Deutsch has been doing a stunning job keeping people informed, and a truly great job helping promote efforts to assuage food insecurity through our local food pantry (where, I understand the number of people coming for food has tripled).
I rode my bike past there yesterday morning on the way home from the cemetery. It is closed this week, perhaps for those who have given so abundantly of their time and energy to restore their spirits for the challenges ahead.
The garden there (which my friends and I created and ran for a few years) seems to be going strong, which was particularly heartwarming for me to see. Thank you to the person who is doing that. (I offered to help a few months ago after it seemed to have fallen into disrepair but one man said he had it all under control, which does appear to be true.)
This news is increasingly dire, however, and this hospital situation in particular is catastrophic. (See another area hospital’s portable morgue here.) Reducing potential impacts on hospitals should be a top priority.
My lived experience shows clearly that there are so many people driving cars who are speeding during this pandemic and road rage is simply higher than it was. Twice the number of people were killed in auto crashes over the holidays this year over last. Leaving our homes to do a healthy activity such as bike riding (and supporting local businesses while doing so) is a bigger risk now due to conditions that are actually within out control.
I wish we had taken a regional leadership role back in March when I asked Mayor Deutsch and my city council for temporary safer access for all (and, at the time, volunteered to lead it) in order to (for one thing) reduce the potential impact on area hospitals and was told a flat no.
I wish other Metro Atlanta cities would step up in ways many other cities around the USA and world have done during these tragic times.
It’s not too late. Even nine months later, my Metro Atlanta city (or yours) would still be a regional (and national) leader. (If interested, here was my ask.)
I continue to have hope.
I continue to take Leaps of Faith, however grim they may feel at times.