Letting Go

Photo of The Milton Mulberry
The Mulberry Tree in the Fellows’ Garden at Christ’s College, Cambridge

Today is Monday, April 6th.  It is fine and warm, with a very light breeze. Today I had decided not to write about Covid 19, but I reneged on this, seeing some of the news was so interesting.  As I was preparing my breakfast, I learnt that Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of the UK, has been admitted to hospital.

Today is Monday, a quiet day for the news. In the Northern Hemisphere, it is “Easter Palm” (otherwise  known as Palm Sunday, in reference to the Gospels of the New Testament). Most churches will be closed, apart from some in Texas and Louisiana.

I go for a walk to the store, with my shopping list. There was a recipe for Mexican Bean Soup  in the Sunday Star Times, and I would like to get brave and try it. I want to buy the ingredients, but there are no black beans – dried, tinned or organic.

Also, there are no new copies of the Listener, the Economist or the TV Guide. I didn’t really expect to find the Listener, since Bauer Media decided to close last week, however since magazines are planned weeks ahead, I am still surprised. This is very hard. It was a great magazine, and I miss it. So far, no one else has picked up the mantle of publishing it.  That was what used to happen on Mondays.

JD wants to go to New World in Newlands to buy some more breakfast cereal. I make my own list – I will come too, although we will shop separately, as advised. But we don’t go.

I ring the chemist at Johnsonville too, but according to the recorded message, they are very busy, so I do not leave my bubble today.

I am reminded of John Milton’s great sonnet, On His Blindness. Milton was a great scholar, reader and writer who went blind at 40 years of age. This was a huge impairment for him, but he composed his great epic poem Paradise Lost after he went blind. He was also an alumnus of Christ’s College, Cambridge, where there is still a mulberry tree in the Fellows’ Garden  in memory of him. I have seen this tree. After I was ill, I memorised this sonnet:

 When I consider how my light is spent,

    Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,

    And that one Talent which is death to hide

    Lodged with me useless, though my Soul more bent

To serve therewith my Maker, and present

    My true account, lest he returning chide;

    “Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?”

   I fondly ask. But patience, to prevent

That murmur, soon replies, “God doth not need

   Either man’s work or his own gifts; who best

   Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state

Is Kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed

   And post o’er Land and Ocean without rest:

   They also serve who only stand and wait.”

I found the last line particularly poignant, and reminiscent of the time we are going though now.

This morning we had an update with photographs of our daughter during the lockdown. She is smiling, and looks as though she is having a good life.

The 1 pm update advises that there are 72 new cases of Covid 19, bringing the NZ total to 1106. This is significantly less than the last few days.  I have to praise the Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield. This rather unsung hero has fronted the briefings almost every day since the lockdown began, with helpful information. The Prime Minister says there is no intention of lifting the lockdown early.  Someone told me that payments for the wage subsidy have already come through. That is really efficient, and must be an incentive to retain staff. Apparently some CEOs and well-paid executives have taken a pay cut! Fancy that.

Apparently 13 hospital staff and 2 patients from Southland Hospital have been forced to self-isolate after a man with Covid 19 symptoms underwent surgery, and has since tested positive. Really, one can only wonder at this type of stupidity. Whenever one has surgery, one is asked repeatedly beforehand if one is well. I can understand the frustration at postponing scheduled surgery, but we all have to endure some delays and discomfort during this time.

The cluster of cases at Marist College in Auckland has increased. It seems that any gatherings or institutions are potential opportunities for contagion. And then there’s the Ruby Princess cruise ship, some of whose passengers have evidently helped spread the virus both here and in Australia.

Strangely, there is some better news out of the US. The Surgeon General, who previously downplayed the risk, is now warning about America’s Pearl Harbor moment, although this virus operates on many fronts and in every state. Dr Fauci advises testing, isolation, and contact tracing of infected patients. He also warns of a huge number of deaths. Is the US taking this seriously at last? 

In New York, the situation is still harrowing, but the death rate seems to have stalled slightly and recovered patients are being discharged from hospital. On the other hand, there are disturbing reports of some patients not even being taken to hospital by ambulance if the paramedics deem them to be unlikely to benefit from medical intervention. In Florida, there are 6,000 new cases of Covid 19, many requiring hospital care. There is also talk about there being not enough ventilators, as though these are essential, life-saving machines. Indeed, they are, although these machines require significant intervention by nursing staff. Medics describe the harrowing situations they find themselves in, working extra long shifts, overworked, and scared for the patients, and themselves, and their families. Most have not been in this situation before, where they’re not only overworked, but in fear of a very contagious disease. In one of the saddest ironies, the former captain of the aircraft carrier, who raised the alarm about his crew, has tested positive for Covid 19.

That’s all for today. Tomorrow I will venture outside my bubble. Maybe I  will figure out how to add more photographs.

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