A Modicum of Melancholy

So I was writing my favorite podcasts entry, and I put in a little aside about the podcast Nocturne and some of the more melancholy aspects of it. When I posted it on Mastodon, I put it under a CW (content warning) due to mentions of death, and realized I’d rather excise it from the entry and have more people read the entry. So I just removed it and then reposted it on Mastodon, as I planned on putting it in another entry. Here is the text below:

One episode [of Nocturne] in particular really got to me. She spoke with a mother whose child was born with severe brain damage and did not live long. The mother mentioned that nurses had told her that “babies often die alone at night,” so they wanted to be with their baby while it was still alive.

This hit me particularly hard, and I didn’t expect it to. My wife and I unfortunately went through a miscarriage, which was devastatingly sad for both of us, but especially my wife. The episode reminded me of that, and how I took a day off of work during the worst of it and just stayed with my wife.

Another thing the episode reminded me of is the death of pets. We had a Chihuahua whom I dearly loved named Chichi (I know, funny name), and she lived till almost 18 years old before we put her to sleep. I went to the vet with my mom and my sister and actually paid the fee, but we didn’t go back with Chichi and spend time with her. I regret doing that, and with Ajax and Xya, whenever they pass or if they have to be put to sleep, we will be right there holding their paws and giving whatever comfort we can. I was talking with my sister about that recently and she agreed; they recently put our terrier-poodle Joey to sleep in the last year or two and she wishes she had had the fortitude to go back there with him when he passed.

So that was the excerpt I removed; I tweaked it a little bit. Re: the miscarriage we suffered (I say we because it was a shared grief, although it obviously hit my wife much harder), I honestly didn’t know how to feel at first. I just comforted her and tried to be there, and obviously didn’t really process it all right away. It was a singularly miserable experience.

We talked last night, too, about what both of us has learned during COVID. She works in public health and has spent months contact-tracing, working testing and vaccine clinics, and it’s been emotionally and physically exhausting for her. Not quite “front line,” but close enough, you know? It’s been a bizarre nearly 18 months for all of us in various ways. She’s learned a number of things about herself.

I was racking my brain to try to think of what I’ve learned. I felt bad thinking I haven’t really learned anything about myself. I know I am OK with being isolated, as long as I have a connection to the outside world, to friends and family, in some form. I learned that we were incredibly fortunate to have been able to work and continue working from home largely. COVID could have been so much worse for us, and we are very grateful it hasn’t been, and have tried to pay it forward whenever we can.

I’ve mostly learned about other people. How callous, unfeeling, and thoughtless people can be (anti-maskers, COVID deniers, science deniers, &c. &c.). But also how incredibly, boundlessly kind people can be, donating their time, burning the candle at both ends, just trying to help howsoever they can. We’ve seen the absolute best and worst of people during all of this. We thought it was ending, or there was an ending and maybe a new beginning, but no, the anti-science bloc had to fuck it up for the rest of us.

I really hope we learn from this, but the cynic in me thinks we won’t learn a goddamn thing. I am not going back to my old ways… I am striving very intentionally not to do so. People have short memories, and I worry we’re going to forget that we can care about people and we can enact societal change and we can fix systemic problems if we just fucking do it. COVID’s exposed so many flaws in the system that were always there, and with them starkly exposed and visible for all to see, many people who had “no idea” can’t ignore them any more. And we shouldn’t ignore them ever again, because we can fix these issues if we just give a damn about finding solutions.

I didn’t think this entry would take a turn like that, but oh well. It’s been a long week and I thought I would get my thoughts down. Thanks for reading, friends, and take care of yourselves and each other.

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