I’m living in a film noir world where death casts giant shadows.
I’m planted in a black and white motion picture punctuated by trees with spiny branches and grasping fingers.
Halloween trees reflecting shadows on gravestones.
I’m starring in a silent movie lobbing silhouettes against the screens of my quarantined house when my cellular rings.
“Hello, Mort here.”
It’s my cousin.
Weakly she announces, “Mort, I’ve just spent the last 12 days in the hospital—fighting for my life.
“Coronavirus?” I ask.
“Yes, but I was lucky. They didn’t put me on a ventilator and I’m home and I am still alive.”
I ponder, “She’s the first seriously infected person I’ve talked to. Will there be others?”
But she divulges little information, the virus robbed her of 12 days worth of memories.
She does not remember the shadow of death reflecting off of her oxygen tent.
She does not recall death’s spiny arms and grasping fingers reaching out for her soul.
But I knew that in her hospital bed, death was her constant companion—her shadow lover.
Death—Preying on this old, infirm and weak woman.
Death—Lunging between the shadows in an effort to meet a daily quota.
I say, “Good bye.”
And within a few seconds my iPhone rings again.
“Mort, I have taken Ivan to the hospital to get tested.”
“Maybe, he’s running a high fever. So he’s sitting in the waiting room and I’m stuck in the car until they give him some results.”
I picture a red hot thermometer glued to Ivan’s lips.
Ivan cries as he reads his temperature.
He silently prays, “Please G-d not the coronavirus. Anything but the corona. I’m too young to die. Shema Yisrael…”
Shadows of Ivan getting dressed are pinned on his bedroom walls.
Tears fall onto his mask, and he whispers, “Honey, I’m wearing the blue and white calico bandana you sewed for me.”
But her face is flushed from weeping.
And deep darkness rests on her eyelids.
In the car, Ivan is blanketed by the shadow of death.
I snap out of my daydream.
“Please tell Ivan that I’m praying for him.
Tell him that I’m praying that death does not cast a shadow on him and that he remains corona free.
Tell him to remember that even though he may reside in the valley of the shadow of death. He should not fear any evil. For G-d will be with him. G-d with his rod and his staff will comfort him.
Good luck and please call me when you get Ivan’s results. Bye.”
I hang up the phone and return to my film noir world where death casts giant shadows.