First came the fever.
Then – a few days later – came nausea and vomit, followed by swift hospitalization.
Then – a few hours later – came death.
Then… cremation and a sad funeral service only a few family members could attend. But he was no longer there to see what his desire to keep on living his life the way he always had, was doing to the people he loved… or to find out that in the process, he’d also infected one of his children… and who knows how many other people. After all, a Christmas gathering with family and friends is an absolute must, even in a year like 2020… as are absolutely all other things one would normally do in a typical year.
He was just an acquaintance, a friend of my step father’s. We’d share laughs and friendly banter over aperitifs or espressos whenever I visited and I’d go out with my step-father. He was fun, smart and successful, well-liked and generous, the kind of handsome, instinctively style-savvy man who can embody clichés about how well-dressed and charming Italians are.
Unfortunately, like so many others, he wouldn’t put his carpe diem behaviour on pause even during a pandemic. Like so many others, he found ways around rules and regulations, simply because he could, because he was bright enough to do it, because it was a challenge, even if not a necessity.
Like so many others, he died.
Will others also die because of his choices?
I don’t care to judge the way people choose to live or end their lives. I can understand choosing to be a brightly burning flame for a shorter while, instead of a small yet long-lived flicker of light. What I can’t bring myself to support is carelessly setting others on fire just so your own flame can keep burning brightly. Like many times before, he gambled. This time, however, those who loved him are left to deal with the loss.
One of his closest friends and the associate in one of his business ventures is heartbroken and grief-stricken. The one thing he isn’t, though, is able – or willing – to stop… or at least follow health regulations… perhaps thoroughly disinfect the pub the two of them used to run, the place they both frequented on a daily basis – even when they weren’t allowed to – together with their clients (many of them close friends) who are mostly retirees.
What else does it take to learn? How much fear? How many deaths? How much time, what amount of pain and how many lives do we still need to waste before we start acting with caution?