For several months, I’ve awoken every morning, and looked at this map. I remember when not every state had COVID-19, I remember when New York started spiking, I remember when we started our stay-at-home time some two months ago.
I was aware that we were coming closer to the milestone of 100,000 deaths during this pandemic, and I thought about all I’d read about the Spanish Flu when I was in graduate school and wrote a short story about a dancer and her young soldier who went off to war and never came home, felled by the influenza that ravaged the world in 1918.
But how would I choose to depict our losses in our pandemic?
I’d seen death quilts, with little coffins neatly stitched, tucked away in their little graveyard or around the edges of quilt. Or would I want to depict them as Canadian physician Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae did, in his poem Flanders Fields?
But this past Sunday morning, I saw this:
I read the article online, scrolling through the humanizing choice that this paper had made, to give a person’s name and a salient, interesting fact about them from their published obituary.
At first it was just numbing, then I noticed this: a quilter. I began to look for other quilters.
I found several.
And on one page, I found not only a quilter, but a “collector of people, laughter and good stories.” It made me wonder: what one line would I want people to remember about me? I found several intriguing qualities, and I reflected briefly on that person, especially the one who was “Faithful in corresponding through cards and handwritten notes.” A woman after my own heart.
I loved Patricia Yanni’s quality: “Wasn’t afraid to try new things.” So often we look to people’s achievements, that they were this important person, or grandmother to twenty-five, or CEO of a Big Corporation, but wouldn’t you rather be known as someone who wasn’t afraid to try new things? I would.
I’d like to be known as someone who gets things done.
Someone who had a life-long passion for learning.
I circled the second one (in red) because now this was in my hometown, a hospital where I had gone for a surgery several years ago. Rosa could have been someone who cleaned my room, made my bed. I will think this week on all those lives that have been taken too soon.
I will remember the quilters.