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  • Writer's pictureHoosier Doc

Death is a Real Thing. Fear is everywhere.

Toddler in a bike trailer with an R2D2 helmet
R in her kid trailer that she's almost not able to fit in anymore after a 20+ mile ride.

This crisis is hurting so many. And, as it begins to hurt people we know and know of, it's filtering down to my child's level of awareness. R is 3 and a half. She has the emotional intelligence beyond her years, something we're really proud of. However, an unexpected complication is that she is hyper-aware of her current situation in ways I never expected.

R knows people are sick. She worries about her dad going to work. She worries that she won't be able to return to school. And, while she's since become aware that it's not the case, she worried she was being punished because she couldn't go to school. Her slightly-younger peers don't seem to get this. Some of her older peers have not even been very aware of these circumstances. So, her compassion and worry is not what I expected. She is definitely my child and much more anxious these days.

My anxiety often overwhelms me. When I come to know someone is affected, it is hard on me. I worry. When I found out I may not be able to see a family member before they pass away because of the risk of Covid as they undergo chemo. I worry about elderly family and their risk of getting it and dying because they are medically fragile. I am thankful my boomer parents are taking this much more seriously than many of their friends and my of my peers' parents. Don't even get me started on boomers - all at serious risk - who cannot see how dangerous their socializing is. There are plenty of people of all ages putting us at risk but these are people putting their own health at direct risk. It's baffling and I just don't get it. I often cry. My kid sees me sometimes. I used to feel really bad but then I realized I can't hide how overwhelmed I am. It's not healthy. And it teaches her she can let it out if she needs to. She sometimes says "Oh, honey, what's wrong?" I have no idea where she got that but is heart-melting and also breaks my heart, too.

My kid is now aware of death. She acknowledged this yesterday. In Indy this week, a police officer - a young woman with a child R's age - was shot in the line of duty. Her funeral took place at the IMS because it was the only venue large enough to allow for social distancing so people could pay their respects. It is a gross underestimation to say that the community is sad. People were touched by this loss at a time they were already sad, anxious, and feeling tons of loss. I saw a news report of a man who had lost three loved ones and came out to stand on his porch to pay his respects. You read that right. He lost 3 loved ones to Covid. It's unconscionable. My heart broke in a million pieces for the mother of a young child taken too soon, for a dedicated public servant, for an advocate for the rights of women held in correctional facilities, and for the son and family she left behind. She had just realized her lifelong dream of being a police officer. It is disgusting and tragic that she was taken. And it's not any better or worse than the lives of others dying unnecessarily from Covid. Sadly, death is always awful. The cost of human life is unacceptable. Lives are lives- no matter who they are. My kid asked why those people were all in cars together since she knows we cannot go out together. We talk about it regularly. It's a constant worry for us all and we repeat the rules of engagement every time we go out to ensure she is safe. I told her about the police officer. She said, "Oh she was sick." I could have lied but I also don't feel like lying to her is the best choice. I usually try and struggle to come up with age appropriate responses to her difficult questions which have become more common these days. They center around people being sick, why she can't visit people, and how babies happen. This is a curious age. So, I responded that she was hurt by someone who was a bad person and unfortunately she died. I explained people were sad but that they caught the person who hurt her. I explained that the reason she was in danger is that she was one of the helpers trying to keep us safe (her last call was a call for partner violence and the offending person actually shot her but is now charged with murder). I sad it is very hard for a lot of people and she was a good, kind person. I explained this was unusual and that most people are good and kind which is why we keep our distance outside. She responded and said, "Oh, she died, like my flowers. She's not here anymore." I explained that that was true and very sad and it's okay to feel sad when people die but that they aren't in pain anymore. We aren't religious so this is the explanation we've always intended to give. She skipped off, repeated this to her dad, and went about her day. Unfortunately, we did have a scary situation about half an hour later. A man approached our door looking very suspicious. He stood looking at me from the driveway before banging from the door. I told R to not let him in and to back away from the door. He repeatedly gestured for me to open the door which I did not. The guy had a huge shiner and his face was scratched up like he'd been attacked. I was immediately concerned that either he had been attacked and needed help or that he had found a hat in the street and thought it was ours because he was holding it in his hand and already wearing a bandana on his head. I got a terrible feeling about it but also kind of shut down. The dogs growled and our big down was up at the glass, teeth bared, barking loudly. He knew something was wrong. The guy stepped back and continued to gesture. I told him to not come closer. He indicated he wanted to come inside verbally and asked to talk about odd jobs. He said he didn't want to hold a sign for handouts but that he'd be willing to talk about anything I needed inside. He then saw my husband, backed up more, and I said, "No. Please leave" and shut and locked my door. He proceeded to high tail it out of there. My husband followed to see where he was going at a safe distance. He got in a car and swiftly drove away. At the time, I was kind of numb. I am in a constant state of anxiety and as someone with PTSD, I often can form an adequate reaction at first sight and later show the cracks caused by it. I did call the police who were concerned and agreed to patrol by our house regularly for the next two weeks. This guy has a rap sheet, they were pretty sure who he was, and they were looking for him. I was told to ensure all doors and windows were locked and to never let him inside because he was not a good guy. That was pretty scary. Today, I'm struggling with the image of this guy telling me to open the door, constantly gesturing at me to open it, and being out demanding work in a pandemic where this is actually not legal. No soliciting. As if I would risk letting a stranger in my home when I won't even let the contractor doing a bit of work for us in our house! I speak to him through doors and across the backyard. After posting on social media, I found his mugshot and his rap sheet which was full of violent and non-violent (property and drug) crimes. Scary times. My kid is, understandably shaken up. Today we are without her dad. She's nervous. I explain to her that I'm nervous but that we have a dog to protect us along with the police. I tell her he can't hurt us here. Meanwhile, I worry about what would have happened without my dog and husband appearing. If he shows up today we will hide and call 911. I hate that I had to tell her that but having a plan seems to make her feel more secure. She doesn't deal well with the abstract, uncertain comments people sometimes make. Having hard conversations drains my emotional batteries. I hope she's not scarred by all of this. No matter what I do, even turning the news off completely, it wouldn't insulate her. There is nothing I can do to keep her from finding out that scary things are happening around us.

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