Letter from a recent deceased.

About the tragedy of the elderly besieged by the coronavirus.

The death of Don Quixote, by Gustave Doré (1832–1883). Image: WikiArt.org.

‘Señores’ ―said Don Quixote― no so fast because in the nests of yesteryear there are no birds this year.

Don Quixote (Chap. LXXIV)

Dear all: While you are at home self-protecting from the crowned virus (Are you?), I died. I am going to try explaining it. It does not matter my name, age, gender, marital status, beliefs, ideology, and profession. Let us see.

I am a grandfather, an older adult, a seasoned veteran in the existence’s war. I am an ordinary person, the owner of a unique biography, because no one can replace a (my) life.

A famous anonymous Spanish saying says ‘A Rey muerto, Rey puesto’ (my free translation is: ‘Dead King, set King’). The English equal, despite its conceptual difference, could be ‘The King is dead. Long live the King!’.

Whatever it is, a king’s dead only means a character’s change in the tragicomedy of life. To inherit a crown or perpetuate a caste — nothing else, and no less.

It does exist more exciting issues than all the Kingdoms put together. Any human’s life is much more interesting than a game of crowns. The experiences, dreams, desires, and uncertainties of a person are many and impressive.

And without forgetting the hopes, winks, illusions, jealousy, gratitude, hugs, and thoughts.

According to pre-Socratic Democritus of Abdera (c. 450-c. 370 B.C.), the Laughing Philosopher, man is a universe in little. A microcosm.

These aspects of the human inner self make up the vital essence. And the sap of the spirit that flows through the soul’s veins.

All biographies are unrepeatable.

A biography, anyone ―yours or mine―is a very complex design’s work. Two lives are never the same. Anyone loves or hates in the same way. None feel with equal intensity the fragrance of a flower or the gentle breeze of dawn.

Nobody measures with the same parameters the oceanic immensity of a tear. And every person has different feelings watching the dew’s tide licking up the petal of a flower.

I am me, and my circumstances said the philosopher. I am me and my biography, I say. Conclusion: as a dead man, I have no substitute. Neither will you.

I lived in the last few years with my neighbors and fellows. They are as distant from society as the sun is from the moon. Many of them hardly speak with difficulty, although they feel their heartbeats. They live!

Those persons cry. The desert of their eyes dried up time ago by many icy and sterilizing tears. But the look’s sorrow intuits an inner bitterness. It is rare to complain or to receive visits, for they do not have relatives. The supposed family ignores them except if there is a will waiting for someone.

Without health, there is no freedom.

My ‘prison’s companions’ are, like I, mummies of faces wrinkled and pale. Beings which lungs breathe absences. Little bodies whose guts defecate forgetfulness. In the soul of many of my former colleagues of solitude hides a dignity violated. A responsibility of family and relatives, institutions and authorities, and society, of course.

And by me, before I became myself a victim of such a cruel indifference. Before being one more. Until then, I considered nursing homes people as the Others. Worse still: they did not exist on the agenda of my concerns. But Fate, the relentless sheriff of existence, put me on the spot.

Believe me, dear reader: mine is a dead man’s word. The dead do not lie. Lying is a quality typical of living. Remember this: Every day, many older men (and women) die everywhere.

The mousetraps where they inhabit are not places decent for the persons. Nor for animals locked up in cages and or imprisoned in zoos. The animals receipt more respect than many persons living in the morgue’s antechambers.

The coronavirus flies through the rusty bronchi of thousands of people. They are persons who built our countries’ welfare, adding their extraordinary individual efforts. They are a great generation of 20th-century heroes (and heroines). A select human collective from I resigned a few minutes ago. In many places, society treats older worse off than ever. What a horror!

Old age is a wisdom library necessary for the youngest.

Elders are like a kind of Alexandria’s library for humanity. They are the owners of an invaluable spiritual heritage. So, we must treat them with dignity. But what means that?

For example, to normalize the irremediable fact of dying. That is the only absolute truth. Nobody had the moral authority to torture them. Nobody can play an interminable requiem, like a hammering hitting them. A significant majority of these persons keep live hope to see and smell the following dawn.

Stop reminding death’s idea. They fear that the shadow that escorts them when walking by the garden is not their own but Atropos. As you know, Atropos is the third Fate’s herald, which cut the thread of life.

Think, dear reader, about a kind of pain like that of boiling oil falling on the skin of the soul. This discomfort scorches those who are afraid of the scythe’s tearing.

Older persons usually meet face-to-face with a colleague or friend’s obituary. It occurs after they open a newspaper. The severity of coronavirus impacts against society is a never-ending story. One is listening to a mournful song. Ever the same title: the elderly’s mortality, the elderly’s lethality, or the elderly’s risk group. The coronavirus does not ask for the persons’ identity card before flooding the lungs.

It is enough already to them (and to everybody) looking at the biological clock. The existential clock shows us that time pass. All hours hurt, but the last one kills.

A shout in the desert?

Leaders of all the countries and nursing homes!

Listen to me, all you, please. According to the WHO, by 2020, people aged 60 and over outnumber children under 5. Old age matters, ‘Señores’! Put an end to the living dead’s warehouses. Closed the places where each hour dies persons like me. I, one recently deceased and author of this letter.

As an ordinary human being, I am exhausted. I have died of loneliness.


Le Tre Parche (The Three Fates,) by Giovanni A. Bazzi, Il Sodoma (1477–1549). Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Medical Doctor (Infectious Diseases specialist/Professor of Medicine) and writer (narrative, theater).

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