It’s not the first time the thought has crossed my mind. And sadly, it most likely won’t be the last.
It arrived, over time, after sitting with me off and on for more than a dozen years at this point.
COVID-19 has further cemented the thought, as disturbing and gutting as it is.
The thought should stop all of us — especially parents — in our tracks.
Are we as individuals becoming desensitized to death?
It used to be, not that long ago, that a traffic accident claiming 2, 3 even 4 lives at once would lead every evening newscast that day, and dominate the digital and morning headlines with follow-ups and community reflections on the lives lost.
9/11, suicide bombings, mass shootings, killing sprees, random attacks of violence of one form or another have systematically and stealthily changed much of this, increasing our exposure to and consequently our appetite for progressively larger, inexplicable loss of life.
We see the horrific images.
We hear the wailing.
We watch the grief.
We listen to the rage, the anger, the frustration.
We witness the sorrow.
We observe leaders pledge change.
The backdrop changes.
The characters differ.
The same horrifying movie plays again and again and again — in another venue.
Paris attacks, Orlando nightclub, London bombings, Sandy Hook school massacre, Las Vegas…the names are stark standalones, requiring little description. They sit within a long, agonizing list.
The memories numbing. The loss of life mind boggling.
Then along comes the global pandemic of 2020, ushering in the need for global digital meters that tally daily death tolls. As we speak, that number is speeding towards 3.4 million.
Close to 3.4 million people on this planet have died from COVID-19. Let that sink in.
For each individual’s passing — how many other lives are forever destroyed?
How many other lives are irrevocably and eternally changed?
How much incidental and collateral suffering occurs?
Do we spend time thinking about the entirety of the toll of losing one life?
Can we possibly understand what that entails? Do we care to?
Or are we seeing the numbers as just that. Statistics. Digits. Momentary uncomfortable reminders — before we continue on with our day.
How are our children — regardless of age — taking this in?
Making sense of this absolute carnage?
In long-term care homes, across families, institutions, countries?
Do we truly value human life? And if we do, how do we show it?
Perhaps remembering the utter miracle that is conception and birth would help.
Nine months for a human life to form.
Seconds for it to vanish.
My point in all of this is more hopeful than mournful.
A gift that COVID-19 has bestowed, should we choose to receive it:
Cherish every moment.
Treasure each other.
Hold your children close. Hug them tight— if and when you can.