Hospice is a verb. I realize this in 2020. Between the detritus, the deaths, the systems collapsing, the cracks and gaping holes letting the light shine on what’s always been there in the roots and crumbling brick. What will we leave in 2020, let die in its time, and what will we take with us? Capitalism, racism, sexism, ableism, all the isms. Is now the time to hospice these broken systems that keep breaking us all?
In the first stay at home order, holed up in refuge with a week’s worth of food, I shifted this paper to that pile and back and forth until finally, I dug in and went through it all. Every scrap and shred of my life that came in written form. I came across an article I had saved from a class in my undergraduate studies on aging. It explored the relationship between people who are in a grand generation – grandparents and grandchildren. Why do they get along so well. What is special about their relationships. What are these knowing glances they exchange, no words spoken. No words needed. It all comes down to the difference between being and doing. We are creatures – like many others – whose cycle of life goes from be to do and back to be.
In 2020, will this be the year we realize that we have gone too far as a whole into the deep end of the doing? Tipping the entire earth off her axis? The signs were sent. Her screaming back at us to slow down, stop, stop digging and mining and exhaling, dodge her wrath in the microscopic form of a virus and the macroscopic form of hurricanes, settle into the existence we were always meant to have anyway. Neighborhoods, connections, mutual aid, mutuality. Time to be still, contemplative, grieving, breathing, imagining, re-imagining. To be.
I marvel at how optimistic and resilient we are though. The ultimate shared strand of DNA is the sense of possibility, or a better day ahead, or light at the end. Ten months into a global pandemic. The loss will never be quantified, the stories never told, the children left behind. And yet, people wake up. They make breakfast, from scratch or from a box. They look out the window. They notice. They write songs. And poetry. And create new life with babies. And get married. They keep up regular dates with dear friends. They donate and run food drives. They get new pen-pals, Cheyenne elders and Connecticut nursing homes and all across the world. They grocery shop for neighbors and drop off meals. They petition and march. They vote. They commit. To each other, to a place, to something new, after the thunder cloud, and the break of day, to maybe, we hope, just…be.