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March 13, 2020
I sure wish you were here to help us with this Coronavirus epidemic. You were practical. You stuck with what was in your power to do, and in ours. You inspired us, as you did parents, to do the most good we could by finding that good in ourselves.
You would have reminded us of everything we can do to avoid infection, and that most people who get sick will recover. You would have been obsessed about helping the people at greatest risk – our elders, people with pre-existing illness without health insurance, without paid sick leave, in low wage service jobs, in overcrowded housing, detention centers, or without homes. You would have insisted that we help the helpers risking their own health, the nursing home workers and health care providers caring for the medically fragile, and those donning masks and goggles to treat one baby or child after another with fever and cough – all day long.
You really knew how to get people to listen. Just as you helped Congress understand why we needed a Family Medical Leave Act (still unpaid), you would have been helping people across the political spectrum understand why, in order to heal and be strong again, our country needs to fund – at the very least – free coronavirus testing, medical treatment, time off from work and unemployment insurance for everyone who needs it in the U.S. who is dealing with this viral illness. You would have kept it simple: any one left untreated or unfunded to stay out of work when potentially contagious becomes one more chance for this virus to spread itself. But you would never have let the physical distance from others we need to stop the spread turn into emotional distance.
Carrying on your good work in these hard times is daunting. Yet one strange twist on the coronavirus epidemic is that, for many of us, the best first thing we can do for ourselves as individuals turns out to be what we are most able to do right now to help others. For many of us, doing everything we can to protect ourselves from the coronavirus may be the first most powerful thing we can do to protect others – and to be ready to continue on with your good hard work as soon as we can.
Thank you for still showing me – and so many – the way. We miss you.