Waiting to Not Die Is Not Living

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My family and I just returned to California from Arizona, where we spent a wonderful Christmas with my in-laws and extended family. Given the circumstances of this particular season, we were sure to ask my husband’s aging parents if they were comfortable with a visit from the California Davises.

They were clear in their answer: we love you, we want to see you, don’t you dare stay away.

While other states have taken a more freedom-based approach to anti-viral measures, California has been run like a beautiful, coastal prison from the start. The views are spectacular but the warden is a real a**hole.

Draconian measures are saturated with nonstop fear-porn from the likes of Warden Governor Gavin Newsom and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and just like in any prison, this place is crawling with snitches. California practically invented Karens, and the species continues to thrive during COVID.

All that to say that Californians have given up everything beautiful and stunning in the name of compliance…in the name of “safety.”

While our small business owners (who have the misfortune to not be named Amazon or Target) lose everything that keeps their families fed and safe, the harpies and robots refuse to consider any other information besides what dribbles from Newsom’s mouth. If you question the logic of lockdowns (we continue to rival New York for worst COVID state while Florida continues to rack up impressive COVID victories), you are treated to all manner of insult from people who are incapable of compromise or seeing outside of their own bubbles. The Lockdown Lecturers™ swear that they just want to save lives, but it has become increasingly clear to me that their only real motivation is to simply help people not die.

Not-dying is not living. It’s just breathing.

Everyone knows how to breathe. It’s involuntary.

Not everyone knows how to live.

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Watching the joy in my in-laws as they loved up their grandchildren and heaped affection on my husband, I was struck by the indisputable health benefits of us being there with them. They’ve had each other through this whole, strange year and thankfully their daughter and adult granddaughters live right next door. They’ve had a pretty big social bubble to enjoy considering all those who have been left lonely this year. But even with that constant companionship, there was no replacing the endorphin rush of wrapping your arms around the ones you love from so far away for so much of the year.

I was also struck by the realization that our time here together is winding down. The grandchildren they once cradled now (proudly) tower over them. There are more groans when they rise from their chairs, stronger prescriptions for their glasses, and sleeping in late is a distant memory.

I thought about what it would have meant to stay “safe” by staying home this Christmas. I thought about all the things that could happen to them in the next year. I thought about all the things that could happen to me, or my husband, or God forbid, one of our children. If this were to be my last Christmas with any of them, would I have deemed my COVID isolation “worth it”?

You may be thinking that I’m being overly-pessimistic to make a point, but you should know that my husband suffered the tragic loss of his two adult brothers many years ago. They were family men, taken together in the prime of their lives and it came without warning. It’s not pessimism I am expressing…it is gratefulness.

Obviously not gratefulness for the enormity of that loss, but gratefulness for the acute sense of time this family has been gifted with. I’ve not asked him personally, but I am confident I can speak for my father-in-law when I say that embracing his only living son any chance he can is far more valuable to him than risking contracting a virus that 95% of people his age will survive. If something were to happen to my husband while we’re all “safely” waiting for this virus to miraculously disappear he would never say, “Well, at least I didn’t get COVID.”

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The Lockdown Lecturers™ tell us we all have to stay home and shutter our sole sources of income because we just don’t know what could happen. Obviously, not everyone who gets COVID is going to die, but you just don’t know who will. Obviously, not everyone is going to transmit COVID but you just don’t know who will. Obviously, not everyone is going to have serious long-term side effects from COVID, but you just don’t know who will.

None of them ever take that logic and turn it around. Not everyone in your family is going to pass away before the next time you can be together, but you just don’t know who will.

We are not promised tomorrow. It seems tragically foolish to sacrifice today on a promise for tomorrow that simply does not exist.

And here’s the kicker…it’s not like our family went out and licked doorknobs and attended Black Lives Matter rallies with 20,000 other people before we went to visit. We stuck close to home, avoided physical contact with others, wore masks and my husband even took a COVID test due to a possible work exposure before we left. We didn’t need the governor to order us to take precautions. We did that all on our own because we are just reasonable people who believe these choices are in the hands of the people, not any government official.

To my in-laws, simply not-dying was simply unacceptable. They demanded our presence, because few people on earth know the immeasurable value of time the way they do. They know what it means to live, and embrace all the accompanying pain and ecstasy.

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A lot of people in this country are going to waste their last opportunity to hold the people they love most. A lot of people will die alone of something that has nothing to do with COVID. Their last thoughts won’t be, “At least I didn’t get COVID.”

We’re doing this all wrong. Not-dying is not the same as preserving life. Caution is good, but loneliness is tragic and the level of loneliness we are unnecessarily inflicting on each other is heartbreaking. It will lead to much regret in the coming days.



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