Ever have somebody want to kill you? I mean actually plan and plot and tell your daughter how they were going to do it? Someone who made it their mission to destroy you. Now imagine walking around every day knowing that there was someone out there who’s sole desire was to kill you.
I remember they day I made the choice. I had spent months walking around in fear of my soon-to-be-ex husband. Constantly looking over my shoulder. Unable to sleep because of every creak and squeak in the dark. And one day I decided to stop. I decided I had already given eight years of my life to someone who didn’t deserve them. I wasn’t going to give one more day. I understood the reality. “Women are 70 times more likely to be killed in the two weeks after leaving than at any other time during the relationship,” the Domestic Violence Intervention Program reports. I was taking a risk by leaving. I was taking a bigger risk by staying. I was tired of being afraid. Tired of giving control to someone who had been controlling me for 8 years. I wanted my control back. And that day I took it. If I was going to die, I was going to die without giving him one more day, one more minute, or one more second of my life. I choose to let go of fear and trust my fate.
I never looked back.
Twelve years later I realize what a defining moment that was for me and how it would affect my life and my choices forever.
This morning I woke up to a headline that read, “US Reported More than 10,000 Covid-19 Deaths in Four Days.” Crap, that’s a lot of people. That sounds scary. So, I ran the numbers.
- 14,400,000 have had a positive COVID-19 diagnosis
- 279,000 have died
- .019 % of people diagnosed have died
- We have 331,000,000 million people in America
- Only .043 % of the population has had COVID-19
Ok Tara, back into your rational brain. Take a deep breath and repeat, “I will not be afraid.”
I know that’s easy to say when I’m not a nurse or doctor overworked, exhausted and surrounded by death. I know that’s easy to say when I’m not one of the 279,000 families that are celebrating Christmas this year without someone they love. I know that’s easy to say when I’m not over 65 and that stat doesn’t apply to me.
My mom and I argue on this. She’s afraid to leave the house. I get it, she’s 74. So far she’s missed all 3 grandkids birthdays, Mother’s day, her birthday, my birthday, my brother’s birthday, our Annual 4th of July BBQ, a trip to Cali to see my brother, Halloween with her grandkids, her annual Vermont trip, and Thanksgiving. Well not completely missed, if you count the occasional outdoor social distancing visit where we have sat 20 feet part and passed cake through an elaborate system of who touched it last.
I’m hearing about nursing homes that are in full shut down mode. We have a close family friend in one. I asked my mom if I could send her an Advent gift. Her year has been even harder than my mom’s because she doesn’t get to do backyard 20 feet apart distancing dates. I figured an Advent calendar that gave her a fun gift to open might give her something to look forward to each day. My mom said no packages are allowed in. Apparently, I have more access to a local inmate than my grandma-by-choice.
I try to think how I would feel if situations were reversed. If that was me. I wonder if I was at an age where I might already be celebrating my last holidays, what would I want to do? It leads to me to the ultimate question: is life about living or about being alive? I mean, what’s the point of being alive if I’m living in a paid Medicare version of jail?
I’m reminded that fear is unbiblical. (Isaiah 41:10, Deuteronomy 31:6, Joshua 1:9, Philippians 4:6-7, just for starters)
Common sense is biblical. God says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love and of a sound mind.” (NKJV 2 Timothy 1:7) and a personal favorite when I feel my thoughts running wild.
So where is the line? I mean, even after I decided I wouldn’t let fear of my ex rule my life, I was still cautious. I kept my alarm system on. Parked in my garage so no one knew I was home. Stayed off posting where I was on social media (something to this day I am still aware of, and will often post only after I leave a location) and that’s just for starters. I didn’t just say, “Well I’m not afraid and so I’ll walk down the train tracks with the train coming!” (Back to that whole “sound mind” thing.)
I still don’t want to eat inside a restaurant and my daughter thinks it’s crazy.
I admit, I still wash all my groceries which I also know the “experts” are saying we really don’t have to do anymore, but for some reason it makes me feel better thinking of all those people who touch my food.
Neckgators make me nervous because they are COVID sieves and might be the equivalent of wearing nothing. Like everything concerning COVID-19, the data on this changes weekly.
And I may or may not be the person who complained at Physical Therapy because no one was properly wearing a mask, including the receptionist who took her’s off completely to walk around prompting everyone else to think it was fine to do the same. And I may or may not now book my appointments at the end of the day so I am usually the only one there and the receptionist who was reprimanded after my complaining is gone for the day. (I have been warned by caring friends…if she ever offers me a coffee I should politely decline.)
With all of this though, I know that I won’t see my mom. God forbid I am the one who unknowingly gives her COVID and she dies. My sister would never, and I mean never, forgive me. Openly, I think my mom has a high likelihood of dying from COIVD. Not because of her age or because she has zero underlying health conditions and is probably healthier than I am, but simply because she believes it will kill her. What we believe is powerful. What we fear is more powerful. ( Job 3:25) And science proves to us fear destroys the immune system. So yeah, I’m not gonna be the one who kills off mom.
But it still hurts my heart. Not just for my mom but for our country.
I think of the long-term financial devastation for small business owners. Restaurants that are closing, families that are behind on their mortgage, rent payments and utility payments.
I think of the child who just shot himself on a live zoom class during virtual school. I guess school shootings still happen even if you’re remote.
I think of the vendors who rely on the holiday selling season for their craft shows which have been canceled. Those people who lost their income to Amazon and Cyber Monday.
I think of all the nonprofits who rely on 5K’s and in person Gala’s to raise money for very important causes in our country, ones that affect more than .019%.
I think it’ll be a few years before we see the mass financial devastation our choices have caused.
And I wonder if it’s worth it for .019%?
I know it’s worth it to the almost 300,000 families who lost family members. It matters to them.
But it also matters to the families of the 10,000 children that die every day from starvation. (Everyday. That’s 40,000 in four days.) Nobody has invested $9 billion dollars in the last eight months to change that. But, I guess that’s because the majority of those children we don’t know and they’re a different color.
I guess it matters of the families of the of the 261 alcoholics that die every day. But on election night, “Where is the nearest liquor store” was the number one searched Google term.
I bet it matters to the 97,966 business owners and all their employees who (as of Sept 2020) have permanently closed their businesses. An according to Kevin Kuhlman, VP of the National Federation of Independent Business, “If economic trends continue at this rate, one in five business owner anticipates they won’t be able to make it until the end of the year.” That’s a lot of employees out of work and a lot of money relocated to a handful of large corporations as consumers take their shopping elsewhere.
I think the biggest thing this virus should cause us to do is stop and think. Think about our choices, the way we go through life, the way we treat other people and just what we prioritize.
Just like my ex-husband, I don’t know if COVID will take my life, but I do know that it won’t take my peace. I do know I won’t let it control me with fear. Regardless if I live or die, I will not be afraid.
The choice is ours.
2 thoughts on “Fear, Choice and Death”
Thank you for writing this. As a childhood cancer survivor, I feel very similar. I didn’t fear cancer and I won’t fear covid, although like you I am cautious and still wash my groceries. After only being able to celebrate my grandma’s 100th birthday through a window I realized that covid has killed the quality of life of more people than it has taken actual lives.
This is so powerful coming from someone who #1 understands the reality of death first hand, #2 understands the reality of hospitals first hand, and #3 prob has a “higher risk” like my daughter and STILL stands firm against fear. You are an inspiration!!!!