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  • Writer's pictureNancy Dafoe


Drizzling rain dropping with temperatures—that kind of weather seeping into everything. Time to take boats out of the water—our big, old pontoon boat having seen better days and our little rowboat for fishing. The county will be lowering lake levels in a few days, and we don’t want to find our boats stuck in muck the way we did last year at this time. End of season. They release valves in dam conduits, and down goes the water.

Late getting our boats out of the lake last year, the two were sucked into mud more like thick syrup, and it took a team of volunteers to help us lift them, float boats north to natural incline that serves as ramp in the County park. One year ago. One year before the day we easily removed our boats from the water, we were driving home from a hospital, leaving the body of our son.

Steering while crying, my husband glanced to his left as we crossed over narrow bridge.

“They lowered the lake,” he said between heaving sobs. Still trying to locate speech, I could not quite comprehend. When we pulled up to our house, we could see our boats below dock level, not settled but sinking. Muck on the south end is feet, not inches, deep. What did it matter? Our 6-foot five-inch son’s body lay on a hospital bed too short for him awaiting the medical examiner. He was gone, but all I wanted was to bring him with us for this impossible journey.

When we arrived home, there was food waiting on the porch. It was raining then, too. Assembling a group, my husband was able to get our boats out, and we settled into internal muck, unable to think, only to descend. When we tried climbing out, grief has a way of sticking to you, even when you are managing otherwise herculean feats.

A year has come and gone, but cold drizzle outside belies the idea of change. Still, we are not paralyzed, not as wracked with gut-wrenching horror, just immeasurably sad, just aware of bottomless loss.

The country, too, has seen endings as a worldwide pandemic crossed boundaries into nearly everyone’s lives, breaking ties, bodies, routines, concepts of normal, whole economies. There will, perhaps, someday be an end of the coronavirus. The dead from COVID-19 worldwide is over one million, over 200,000 of them are Americans, as the number infected continues to rise, reaching 35.2 million in the world. The coronavirus seems to be mutating, and human life on the planet is changing, too. An end to “normalcy” whatever that means worldwide certainly has meaning for typical Americans who are suddenly without work, without security, without means to provide for basic necessities of life. Over 200,000 American lives—end stop.

Even before COVID-19 began culling the ranks of humanity, the administration of Donald J. Trump had dropped endings as precipitant of a metaphorical hailstorm: ending common decency in public discourse, empathy, even the pretense of sympathy for those less fortunate; ending laws and regulations designed to protect air and water. Ending laws and regulations designed to prevent the millionaire class from permanently subjugating everyone else. Legislation designed to ensure healthcare has been undermined and chipped away until only a framework remains; legislation designed to insure voting rights for people of color gutted. With the kind of wild abandon found in chaos theory, Trump inhabited the White House. He played golf, Tweeted, and sat around watching FOX like a crime boss blood-drunk on power with access to the U.S. Treasury.

End of confidence in election security. End of near-universal belief in eventual justice, however flawed. End of any pretense of American exceptionalism. End of our European alliances and friendships. End of trust in institutions that protect a fragile “democracy.” End of an era in which racism and white supremacy were viewed as wrongs to be righted. End of participation in the Paris Climate Accord. End of participation in the UN Population Fund. End of trust in media, and the end of believing the facts before our eyes and those heard with our own ears, thanks to Trump and those who have insulated and protected him.

End of America’s Century. End of world respect for the U.S.A. End of life for thousands of other species on the planet. End of some semblance of commonly accepted basis for science, reality, and truth. End of United States’ citizens viewing one another as countrymen/women. End of the myths of capitalism as anything other than inherently destructive. End of the myth of GOP politicians as anything other than self-serving megalomaniacs. End of the season. End of a way of life. End of a propped up economic bubble.

We all die. That is the hard fact, but some tragedies are preventable, some horrors are reversible. I would give everything to have my son back. Not possible. I would give anything to stop the ascension and dominance of Trump in all of our lives on the American and world stage. Possible. More than possible. Vote. Resist. "Do not go gentle into that good night."

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