On being ... very real

By Ingrid Sapona 

The term “virtual” has become one of the key watchwords of the pandemic. For example, many folks who used to go into an office or specific work location are now working “virtually” from their homes. Families and groups are having “virtual” get togethers. Indeed, this past weekend there were news stories about “virtual” Passover Seders.  

In some ways, being able to do things virtually has become a badge of resilience. It’s a sign that people are coping and becoming more accustomed to – and comfortable with – technology. For sure, it’s handy to be able to do some things virtually. But, I think doing things virtually can also amplify the disconnection people feel as a result of the pandemic. I also worry that the ability to do things virtually has numbed many to the disruption and devastation the pandemic has caused.  

The strangeness of being virtually present is on my mind this week because today at noon I’ll be “attending” a streamed funeral of a family friend who died of Covid-19. The funeral is being held in person in Virginia but it is also being streamed on-line for those of us who cannot attend in person. It’s thoughtful of the family and funeral home to employ technology to give those of us far away the opportunity to hear what his friends and family say as they celebrate his life. (Given our late friend’s remarkable zest for living, I have no doubt that much of the service will focus on that.) But, I can’t help feel that watching the funeral remotely will be a lonesome activity at a time when the fellowship of others is especially needed. Another shortcoming is that it doesn’t provide an opportunity for me to truly pay my respects to him or his family… 

I don’t think I’m alone in feeling that much about the past year has been surreal. No matter how I’ve tried to fathom it, I cannot wrap my mind around the number of people who have died from the virus. But, the tragedy of the pandemic becomes very real when someone you know and care about dies from it. Indeed, that’s when you realize you have something sadly in common with many millions of people who lost one of the 2.79+ million who have died from Covid-19. We must never forget that for all those who are left behind by someone who died, the pandemic is – and always will be – very real.  

© 2021 Ingrid Sapona



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