After You’re Gone
Over the years, writing “Paul’s Heart” has been rewarding, therapeutic, sometimes entertaining, and occasionally, a wonderful trip down memory lane. Sometimes, it can be heartbreaking, provocative, and challenging. If there is one thing that can frustrate those in my life, I am consistently open, candid, and at times, brutally honest in my posts. I am this way for one reason. While there is much to be celebrated being a long time cancer survivor of over 31 years, and I consider myself to be a great Dad to two of the most wonderful daughters a father could ever ask for, I will never discover a cure for a disease. I can never donate blood or organs because of my health history. Wanting to have a feeling of worth, more than just that of a father, I feel that if any of my experiences in my life that I share, can help even just one person, then my post, my openness, was worth it. Whether someone feels encouraged, inspired, moved to do something in life, for the better, from my examples in cancer survivorship, patient advocacy, adoption, divorce and single parenting, if my words help just one person, then it has been worth it to me.
In all my of years writing, I cannot recall ever mentioning that I had a younger sibling. There are reasons for that, that I will not get into for the purpose of this post, because it is not relevant. To keep it simple, we had been estranged. And yes, that last sentence is past tense. My sister died just over a month ago, from Covid19. Again, the purpose of this post is not for sympathy. I do not ask for any. But there is someone hurting right now, that does impact me, my mother. As a reader of “Paul’s Heart,” you know I have a lot of extreme health issues. My sister should have easily outlived me. However, she made a decision, and was wrong.
So as I often do, thoughts filled my head, and with nowhere else to go with those thoughts, they went to paper, raw, nonstop. My sister and I had major disagreements that we were willing to take with us to our graves. Now that is guaranteed. But there was still something needed to be said.
It is my hope, that if you are one of the many, still unvaccinated, or still fighting against ending this health tragedy, that you can see, your thoughts and decisions that you are making in not getting vaccinated against Covid19, affect more than just you. You cannot say “the media” this or “that stuff does not happen” or ” it was something else” just because you do not like a resource. This actually happened. My sister died from Covid19 because she refused to get vaccinated for a number of reasons, all of them wrong. She did not need to die. This is the truth. If you truly feel, that the risk of a potential minor side effect if it happened at all, is worse than dying, because that is what you have been led to believe, read this story. Because in the end, it is not. Dying from something preventable does not just affect you.
After You’re Gone
“First, I want to say, I understand why you believed what you did. I also feel bad that you believed what you did. But I get why.
Second, there is a part of me that is even proud, that you stood by your decisions, all the way to your last breath. Nothing was going to break that rock.
So, here we are. Now you are gone, dead. But damnit! You stood your ground!
And what did you get for the ultimate commitment? Anything from the President you supported, who claimed Covid19 was a hoax in the beginning? But even after acknowledging it was real, you still did not take Covid19 seriously. Anything from the anti-vaxxer crowd and conspiracy theorists who pushed false treatments and their reasons not to take the vaccine, whose efforts you bought, hook, line, and sinker? Will you be getting a medal for your “patriotism” for the stance as some would refer to you, a “patriot”, for the position you took? Ah, how about cash? Any reward for the ultimate sacrifice you paid for with your stance? No?
Well, here is what you do have.
A spouse who still does not believe in getting the vaccine, even after watching you die.
Your children, though adults, will live without their mother for so many years, that you were supposed to see of their future.
Your own mother, now having to bury her child, something no parent should ever have to do.
This is not just about your decision. It is also about risk, for others in your life.
There will likely be a funeral, during a time when Covid19 is still a huge risk. This type of gathering is referred to as a super-spreader event. It will be attended by those who have taken the same position as you, but also others who have believed in science and what is necessary to protect their lives. Attending your funeral will still put them at risk, but they want to be there out of respect for surviving members of the family. I guess you had not thought about that.
I bet you did not think about all the hospital staff that would have to take care of you and not only watch as you die, or like on your birthday, make sure you would be able to hear voices sing happy birthday from your family through a phone. That is, if you were able to hear it. Oh yeah, and then, the time when the ones who fought to save your life, have to tell your family that you are gone, and yet, another death they have had to witness that did not have to happen.
I am pretty sure you did not think everything through, that getting vaccinated to protect yourself against Covid19 was not just about you, but the countless lives that would be affected by you not getting the vaccine. Now you know. But it is too late, you are gone now.”