Scary hours

I have lived a long time. I would like to live longer, but I don’t want to be greedy about it. If a meteor was approaching the planet, zeroing in on New Jersey from some precinct of space, and there was no way to avoid it, I don’t think I’d panic. I’d have Hilary with me. Because of her, my life has been a rich and beautiful thing. We’d face the catastrophe together.

No, what I fear is separation: being unable to help her when she needs me, or comfort her when she’s frightened. When I’m shook up, my anxiety drives a wedge between us. Neither of us wants to worry the other.

My cousin has been taken to the hospital. She is 70 years old. She had run a fever for many days — she was up to 102 degrees on Friday. She didn’t want to go. Her children, one of whom is in recovery from the virus and another who hasn’t yet been tested, had been taking good care of her. Once she experienced chest pains and difficulty breathing, they sent for the ambulance. No one was allowed to go with her. She’s on her own in a battlezone.

Reports have been sketchy. We know she spent the night in the ER. An x-ray of her chest suggested pneumonia. The hospital is looking for a bed for her. They’ve treated her with plaquenil, which is one of the two quinoline drugs given to malaria patients. Her daughter, who caught the virus on a business trip, told me she feels helpless. I’m sure it goes well beyond that. We’ve been checking our phones for updates. But for those on the other side of the glass doors, the world of the hospital is a silent one. We hope to hear something more clarifying than a howl. We hope for a sunnier day.