Off in the distance, the trees start swaying to a swift song. On the ground below, the dirt dances drawing up debris in droves. Casting cold colors, the clouds come together swirling in small circles. Soon enough, it’s built up and on it’s way: a tornado.
What direction is it heading? Will it turn off or continue this way? Who or what is in its path? Will it weaken before it arrives? Or will it strike full force eliminating every obstacle in front of it?
There’s no rhyme or reason, no sure way to know where it is heading or how hard it will hit. Sure they have been studied — there is data out there predicting the path. But in reality, it’s just a guess.
One house could be hit, flattened to the ground. Merely feet away, the next house left unchanged. Down the road, maybe a few shingles blown off. Cars could be overturned, a trampoline flown football fields from home or not so much as a leaf blown off of a tree.
Most people see it coming, hear the warning and take shelter — a basement, a room with no windows. While others stand fearlessly outside watching the monster get closer and closer with confidence that it will concede to them. But will it?
This is COVID-19.
Maybe you already had this silent cyclone come through. It sauntered by your house without one misplaced strand of grass. Asymptomatic. This tornado of a virus must be a joke, there are so many who didn’t even know it passed through.
Maybe no one you know personally has dealt with this type of disturbance. All around, there are people determined to convince you that this drama is just a distraction. Maybe you start to think that since you have never seen actually seen it, it must be made up. Surely, come November, all of it will dissipate.
Maybe the subtle storm struck your house with only a slight disruption. Sure, it took a week or two to mend the mild messes of aches and coughs it left behind. But it was no worse than similar storms from years past.
Maybe you are simply not afraid of this peculiar perpetrator. After all, most of the data indicates that the severe experiences are extremely rare — even though nothing was known of this rampage until recently. If there is a cyclone crushing through, the amount of dwellings that it demolishes are inconsiderable and not worth the dread and distress.
That is, unless it is the home of a loved one.
Every “maybe” above has been me at one point or another in the last five months. Selfishly, even the one who understood the fact that some lives may be lost — not nearly as many as they thought at first — but that it was too far and in between to be as frightened as I originally was.
Sure, I saw all the worst cases, listened to the front-line workers who said this was real, but also knew that the media thrived on those tear-jerking stories. It wasn’t that those lives were not important, it was just that the numbers spoke differently. And it wasn’t until one of my close relatives became that demolished house that I finally opened my dang eyes.
Last week, my brother-in-law, Ira, who has COVID-19, was intubated and flown to Cleveland Clinic. We held our breath for two days wondering if he could withstand the first lashing of the whirlwind. Barely escaping the initial collapse, he continues to fight for his life on a ventilator. Alone.
Alone, because there are no visitors allowed on the COVID-19 floors. Alone because my sister, niece and nephew are also COVID-19 positive, so they too, are alone. Alone because we cannot even go over there and comfort them for fear of catching it ourselves.
Helpless. Scared. Restless. Worried. Anxious. Alone. Unknown.
There’s a COVID-19 tornado out there, guys. It’s real. It’s here. It may hit one house and completely pass over the next. It could wipe out a block or leave an entire city untouched. Most of us will mask up, hit the basement, protect our family or brace for impact. Some may stand out unprotected, watching and welcoming its wrath.
Sure, per the only known recent data, you have a pretty good chance of the tornado skipping by mercifully. But some, they will struggle. It may be fewer than originally thought, but if that person is someone you know and love, no longer does any data or percentage matter.
Maybe it’s not actually about you. Instead, it’s about protecting those who, unknowingly, may be in its path.
Please join me in praying for the complete healing of Ira and the Collier family.
Sarah (Pitson) Shrader was born and raised in Lima. She is a Lima Central Catholic and Tiffin University graduate. Sarah is a full-time working mama who enjoys writing about her somewhat crazy, always adventurous life as a mother. She lives in Bath Township with her husband, Paul, and their daughters, her writing inspirations, Maylie and Reagan.