While working on NewBook, which is now OVER 100,000 words, I was ambushed in early July by a shorter story that demanded to be written ASAP. I couldn’t shake it off, and after my husband’s younger brother and his wife caught COVID-19, and after Melissa died after a long struggle in the hospital, and after more than a week of struggle with grief for her and all the others who died in the US unnecessarily while callous politicians shrugged off the growing number of cases and deaths as necessary to save an economy that was so unfair and so brutal to so many….I was able to write it. It is now up on my website, with a link to your choice of formats on the front page, http://elizabethmoon.com
If you read it, and if it moves you, I do have a suggestion. We need a list of these infants, children, men, and women…these children, parents, siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, friends, employers, employees, who are so often not named…just numbers in a COVID dashboard on some site we can’t even be sure are including them all in the count. We need to see them as people, people who breathed and then couldn’t, people with bodies, with families, with jobs (if they were old enough), people of all the diversity in this country, people whose contributions were known or unknown. We need to hold those faces, those names, those stories up to the politicians who think they don’t really matter, who have shrugged off, and continue to shrug off the numbers as they rise and rise, on the grounds that *these* people aren’t as important as the numbers of the Dow-Jones, or employment. The governors of states that closed late and opened soon, all those who insist our children must return to school so their parents can return to work…even though over 97,000 children have already tested positive in the last week to ten days. We need to FORCE them to look at the faces, say the names, and push back against the notion that these deaths are a necessary *and acceptable* price to pay.
I have been writing over and over on FaceBook (not my favorite place, to be sure) that saving lives should be the priority, should *have been* the priority, over saving someone’s portfolio, or increasing the profits of businesses or that “sacred” economy that had continued to harm the nation. I said, over and over, that PEOPLE made up the nation, that the nation had survived because even with a frayed and damaged social fabric, it was that fabric, the people and their connections to each other, not the GNP or the Dow-Jones or any other abstract number that made it capable of going on, and of greatness. And it made no difference. Writing and calling my Congressman and Senators, governor and lieutenant governor, made no difference. They’re all committed to a white upper-class concept of what the economy is, and why it must be saves and human lives ignored.
So. My “Bring Out Your Dead” is the old one…the real one…from back in real history that has become *now* history. In my home county in South Texas, and the counties on either side of it, the pandemic rages not because it could not have been stopped…but because it was not “important” enough. The people getting sick and dying from it weren’t important enough. As a man named Van Gin, an “economist” in the Texas Public Policy Foundation (right wing think tank), the pandemic in Texas as a whole was killing “mostly the elderly and Hispanics” and thus not important enough. Others have said much the same in other states. It’s the old, the poor, the weak, the people who had pre-existing conditions, the people who lived in crowded housing…who were dying. But they’re people, I keep saying. They’re not abstractions, not numbers…they’re people. And that’s why the story was written, and that’s why I’ve been grieving since March when I realized how badly our governments, federal and state, were going to treat this, hoping they could have “business as usual” while the cases and deaths and complications grew and grew and grew.
26 thoughts on “New Story”
Elizabeth, I read Bring Out Your Dead and cried. This is such a true story for our times, and I am sorry to say that not only where you live but in countries world wide money rules. Thank you.
Patricia: Thank you for your kind words. I know it’s not just in my state or my country, and really not just in a pandemic…the privileging of money over human lives is pervasive…but the pandemic makes it even more obvious. But we are the poster-child for how NOT to respond, this time.
Thank you for sharing the story. The ‘those people’ reactions are particularly infuriating when you take into account the reports that certain minorities are less likely to be able to be tested (similar to some of the voting issues) – https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/04/23/covid-19-racial-disparities-could-be-even-worse-than-we-think/ with link to Illinois stats – http://www.dph.illinois.gov/covid19/covid19-statistics.
Interesting opinion piece that talks about the rate of minorities following guidelines vs. whites and how the infection rates are not aligning … probably due to the systemic racism where the minorities are likely in closer housing and in front-line jobs. – https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/08/10/new-data-finds-black-hispanic-americans-more-likely-take-precautions-against-coronavirus/
Thank you for the links. I don’t have a subscription to Washington Post and thus can’t read those articles, but from other sources know that for Texas, it’s absolutely true: Hispanics are 8 times more likely to die of COVID and I am sick and tired of people sneering at their “social behaviors” that they claim are the problem. In my home area of Texas, housing is *necessarily* crowded, they do ALL the dangerous jobs in direct contact with people who are known to have COVID (in medical facilities, such as there are) and in other public-facing jobs, including ones where mask wearing isn’t standard or in some cases allowed (construction, for instance.) They may also not have access to clean, uncontaminated water, they’re generally underpaid and the stores available to them may not carry the supplies it would take to stay safer. They often don’t have access to grocery stores with quality foods, besides not being able to *pay* for quality foods, which leads to being overweight because what’s available is cheap and tasty–sugar, fat, salt. (My excuse for being overweight…none.) As for who follows guidelines…it’s certainly the white people who make a big stink about a waitress wearing a mask or fast-food server or someone in a store asking them to put on a mask, like that woman who knocked the older lady down and broke her leg. That scumdog Alex Jones was ranting around Austin today with a bullhorn saying the pandemic was a hoax.
Elizabeth, I once had the opportunity to talk with a special forces veteran about death. I asked him what he thought when he saw the dead on a large battlefield. He said he always wondered how many potential Mozarts and Einsteins had been killed. Reflecting on his answer I marvel at how “color blind” his mind was and how incredibly foolish our country as a whole has become.
Thank you for this comment. Yes, the great composers, musicians, artists, sculptors, mathematicians, biologists…but also the mothers, fathers, grandparents, siblings, children…the links and crosslinks that make any culture, any nation, a whole “thing”.
Hi – this just in – there is an interesting book on Project Gutenberg – The Horse and His Rider, by Francis B. Head. Written more than a hundred years ago, it presents an interesting view.
Hi – second book on Project Gutenberg: The Horse’s Friend , The Only Practical Method of Educating the Horse and
Eradicating Vicious Habits By O. S. Pratt”
I’ll try to find it when I have more time. NewBook and stories and two horses and so on are eating my time.
“Bring Out Your Dead” is sad, telling and inspiring. Thank you for writing it.
A powerful and moving story. I’m tearing up again just thinking about it. Thank you!
Please accept my sincere condolences for your loss.
(And thank you for baking cookies with me, nearly 25 years ago now. I needed that support then, after my own loss.)
You’re very welcome for the cookie baking. Thank you for writing.
I just found this site. Thank you for the gift of all your writing.
Thank you, too, for insisting that our lives are more important than an economy which only benefits the wealthiest, that all our lives are more important.
Please don’t believe that your advocacy is in vain. I think we give each other strength to keep going, maybe especially when nothing changes.
Glad to know you have another book on the way. I look forward yo reading it.
Thank you for the encouraging words.
And thank you, right back.
My sincere sympathies for your loss. It can’t have been easy to channel that grief, but thank you for writing “Bring Out Your Dead”. It’s a squarely on point heartbreaker that should be required reading in some rarefied circles. Your characters take such a lovely, heroic stand for the now well over half-million people who’ve succumbed to this horrible (and at the very least, partly-preventable) scourge. I got a bit weepy, but your story also made me smile—gotta love the gumption. I was late in finding “Bring Out Your Dead”; it’s unconscionable that it’s still so painfully relevant a whole year+ after your post.
Thank you. I wrote it in mingled tears and rage at my own inability to do what I imagined them doing.
I hope you have plenty of joy filled memories to comfort you in the absence of loved ones.
Thank you for the strength of your writing. You made critical points, touched hearts & made it real as others still lie & pretend it’s not true. I plan on passing on, “Bring Out Your Dead” to folks who will appreciate and pass it on to other like minds.
Thank you. I appreciate that.
I’m so sorry for you loss Elizabeth. My family lost it’s heart this year when my grandson died, then we lost it a second time when my husbands Mother died of covid. We’ve lost friends and coworkers, and seen some of those coworkers develop debilitating ailments that have forced them to retire early because they can’t get through an hour much less a day of work anymore. All of this has broken our hearts especially since so much of this could have been avoided. It saddens me that the people of this country are working so hard to make our path out of this so fraught with division and lies instead of making this a time to band together and help everyone get out of the mess together. Our leaders are so mired in their political scheming that they are actively making this worse instead of saving lives and making those lives better.
Most of them are just worried about reelection and making money to really care how many are hurt or killed. It’s disgraceful.
Thank you for your story. It hit home with me and again I’m so sorry for your loss.
My name is Ken. I’ve been a fan of yours since I read Sassinak years back, and the Deed of Paksenarrion is by far, the best tale of the origin of a paladin I have EVER read! And that’s coming from someone who’s consumed science fiction and fantasy in excess for damn near 40 years.
More to the point, I am a critical care travel nurse working in the American SE, and I’ve been in Covid units since the beginning. I grew up hearing mom’s work tales, knew her coworkers as family friends, learned how to deal with the vicissitudes of nursing life almost before I learned how to navigate high school. Nursing has been a part of my whole life, but this pandemic has been… something beyond.
Your story hit home, and was possibly the most reasonable, cathartic solution to the incandescent rage and existentially wrenching sorrow and depression that fills me these days. I read it on my meal break *just now*, working night shift in the ICU, and I’m scrambling to reply before it’s back to work. You made me cry at work for reasons NOT involving my immediate patients. Thank you for that.
My respect and admiration for your writing, your skill, and your perspective jumped an order of magnitude today.
Gratefully, your reader,
Ken Denk, RN
Ken, if my story gave you any release, catharsis, comfort…then my own rage & grief & struggle to get it written was worthwhile. I am awed and grateful that you took the time to post here, and awed and grateful for all the health care workers who’ve been slammed again and again by this hot mess for almost two years now and still are able to keep going (I know many who’ve been crushed to failure.)
My respect and admiration is flowing back at you and your colleagues.
I can’t believe I ran my mouth (through my fingers) enough that I neglected to offer my condolences. I am so sorry for your loss, while still glad to read that your brother-in-law is still here. I wish Love and Strength to you and your family.
No harm, no foul, no upset. Thank you for your posts.