By E.M. Fredric
We’re at peak time during the worldwide pandemic of COVID-19 - an abbreviation of coronavirus disease 2019. On February 11th WHO announced COVID-19 and by March 4th California Governor Gavin Newsom made the call to declare an emergency for the state of California as we local Angelenos were told we would be home for a few weeks. We knew it was coming - we just didn’t want to believe it. On March 11th, WHO made it official: COVID-19 is a pandemic. By March 19th we were ordered – nearly 40 million residents - to stay at home and to practice social distancing.
Our world has changed as we greet one another while in a store with a mask on and hopefully on the street as well. When I wear mine, I protect you and you protect me and others by wearing yours.
It’s the 50th anniversary of Earth Day with most of us at home for many moons now chomping at the bit to get out, work, travel, resume life – hopefully differently than before… better if we’re smarter. As stats go up and down many more will die.
What struck me at times is how I can feel so many conflicting emotions: rage, frustration, excitement, fear, anger, love, hope, desire, doom… I see photos of protestors armed with guns in trucks not wearing masks - or others holding signs with gloves and masks (or neither) demanding to be set free to work – at what price? Darwin’s Theory. Thankfully our Governor and others – like Governor Cuomo - are not spinning to thin the herd or making it about politics – just simply about lives.
Then, there are those who want and are reopening too soon without regard for human life.
A bad choice alters everything and everyone around you.
Later this week also marks the 29th anniversary of my husband’s death. He didn’t have to die but it was pre-opioid crisis. He didn’t die of an overdose, a combination of preexisting conditions kept him asleep after relapsing on what normally wouldn’t have killed him.
I will always miss Johnny boy, his laugh, his humor, his presence were infectious and the gift he left me – a wonderful, gorgeous son? Priceless. They say time heals all wounds – perhaps it lessens them but the pain of loss doesn’t get erased – especially when it can be avoided.
It’s so important to love deeply and care about one another right now – we have that choice, that right - we can and will get through this.
I’ve loved, been loved and lost many in my lifetime. But the dreams that come have actually restored my conviction that all will end up better than before. We’ll either heal with the earth as she has shown us in a short time or we’ll repeat history and lose big time. In story telling one of the main rules is to end with a lesson. What will we learn?
I've had vivid dreams about him over the years but not for a very long time. The first one after he died was so real. We were laying on a beach in Tahiti and he was telling me how he wanted to take me around the world (remember that type of love?) We were laughing and I said, "But we cant." He looked confused and asked, "Why not?" Gently I replied, "Because you're dead." I've always had colorful dreams but more so as of late that are off-kilter like so many.
I share this dream because so many think or believe that they’re immune, it’s a hoax, it’s just the flu or that this virus can’t happen to them. It’s extremely personal but my life has always been about making a difference and it’s not an easy road. The cancerous divisive forces of this world are taking us into undecided territory. It's not so different from my journey as a young mother 29 years ago – into the unknown. Magic and hope lives there – may it happen now.
I tried to go to the cemetery in Culver City a week ago to visit the grave I hadn’t visited in many years. I wanted some peace and quiet to be able to just sit and talk or have my thoughts. It was closed.
A Covid-19 Dream
He always said he had a hotline to God. Nothing would ever happen to him. Sober 7 years. Now - a rising star as both drug/alcohol as well as family counselor. With a new family. Again. His four kids from a prior marriage were a constant reminder of all that he had done wrong – but he wanted to right that. By spending time when he could, when they actually came with him and his new girlfriend - soon to be wife/mother of their newborn son. His ex-wife tormented him constantly about what a bad father he had been, what he owed her and her 5 kids, yet only 4 were his. Soon, she would have her 6th while their eldest daughter had her first. But he wouldn’t know… because the horse had come to take him back.
The cart had arrived.
He promised his new wife that he wasn’t going anywhere and that God would take good care of him no matter what – as he puffed on a fat cigar with a handsome grin. The smoke snaked around his face. His sleep apnea held him with a vise-like grip but he was aware and wanted to fight. The horse looked at him after coursing through his body and with blinking eyes snorted the information that his lungs were filled with fluid from undiagnosed bronchial pneumonia which went untreated even though he worked at a hospital.
His wife had told him to get help but he thought he was just tired from the new baby and the abusive boss at work who was jealous of his outside job as the new rising IT-man to get others sober. He looked at the horse and fervently explained that he had promised his wife that all would be better in the morning, he wanted to make the changes in himself. He had made a mistake. He had lied about the car accident and where he had been that night - but he loved his wife and their new son, only 4 ½ months old. But his biggest mistake was… falling asleep. The horse smelled that opportunity.
He tried screaming, “PUT THE CART AWAY!” Then, “PUT THE CART IN FRONT! At least I have a chance…”
Again, the horse snorted and this time raced through his veins pulling life’s blood with her as she carefully - yet swiftly - moved the cart behind. All the while he kept yelling and pleading to leave the cart where it was – he didn’t want to go, not yet. His new life was just beginning. He had the chance to make everything right again. His parents would look at him differently and his older kids would learn that he wasn’t some loser drug addict – he had 7 years of sobriety goddammnit!!!
He had a gold necklace shaped like a guitar embedded with diamonds. One for each sober year, made for him by his Heavy Metal band clients. His name was on the Gold Album – ‘Rust in Peace’ - a thank you etched in, for helping them to keep their act together.
Which day was it that he and the horse had met again?
Ahh, only his old roommate Matthew knew. Matthew who was jealous of his best friend’s newfound happiness had been at him for months borrowing money and slowly chipping away at what they used to do together. They were a team, “MAN”! A Team! He saw Matthew last night after a call about the hookers who needed to come into the hospital. He went with another counselor to confiscate their drugs and paraphernalia to toss into a dumpster. Then he and Matt met secretly to go back and collected the stash after the new clients were checked in. He would hold this secret and never tell. He knew his buddy, his brother Matt…wouldn’t utter a word to anyone.
The cart was here - and he hadn’t seen it coming.
The horse put the cart behind her again and with steady gated footing slowly pulled him forward. He strained to resist but the depth of where he had gone had eclipsed any chance of returning - no matter what his new wife tried.
Frantically she attempted CPR after seeing a small pool of blood settling on the skin of his chest with their newborn crying hungrily in the next room. She saw the foam on his lips. She called 911 immediately – even though she knew he was already dead. His wife desperately wanted to blow life back into him and all she heard was a liquid rumble.
In a flash – he was surrounded by paramedics then a coroner the police officers and homicide. A chain of command had begun.
The horse yanked his soul out of his large shell that looked serene in bed – grasping him with a swift tug. His new widow sensed his presence above her. The energy enveloped her momentarily as she was told her husband was dead. He had shot up between his toes. “NO! He had athlete’s foot and they bled every night. He always uses his socks to scratch between his toes!”
A look… silence.
It wasn’t possible. Last night he had come home crying and apologized - saying things were going to change. Someone had tried to run him off the road. She had given him a long hot bath and listened. The officers assured her that the story seemed real and their young infant was healthy.
Homicide left... but the coroner remained.
The strong surge of the horse catapulted him into a different dimension. Gazing down at his body he didn’t know how to get back. The horse’s nostrils flared impatiently – it was time to go. He tried to charm the horse into putting the cart back into the front.
It was too late.
He realized his limp body was no longer impermeable. What traces of the horse they would find would be miniscule. The official stamp would be sleep apnea, acute bronchial pneumonia and the horse. This combination kept him in a deep sleep. He couldn’t wake up to cough and clear his lungs.
He had drowned.
He saw his wife’s disbelieving face. She was in shock. He could no longer embrace her. She appeared confused and bewildered… he said everything would be different. He had told her how much he loved her and their new son. She was right about chasing fast money. And the accolades. These blinded him to what could’ve been. He should have been happy with what he had. All of it was spread out before him - yet nothing seemed to be enough - like any of his addictions - until now.
He couldn’t tell her or anyone how bad he felt for fucking up. Everything he worked for was over. He wouldn’t watch his son grow up or get that second chance to be the great father he wanted to be. He begged the horse again to help him right the cart. He was trapped in it.
His hotline to God had been cut.
With a burst of energy they were gone… flying… away from his human form.
He laid helpless as the horse steered the way.
"When the freedom they wished for most
was freedom from responsibility,
then (they) ceased to be free." ... Edith Hamilton/Edward Gibbon - The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
The arts - in all forms - touches the emotions, imagination dreams and more importantly - has profound healing effects.