Notes on the Grippe

Day One Thousand

One thousand days of the Dread Lord Grippe Reborn. His reign of terror can perhaps be said to be over – we all certainly act as though it is – and yet he persists. An insidious presence at the heart of everything. Every week dozens perish in these parts by his hand. There are solemn announcements, ignored by most as we go about our days. Our hospitals are overflowing again, this time with children, who were spared the worst of the Dread Lord’s initial ravages, but now seem to be suffering from other disputants to his crown. There are even suggestions they may be working in concert in some way, exposure to the Grippe Reborn’s touch ensuring that we are all weaker when we face one of his challengers. Or perhaps it is just that our quarantine measures spared us from this suffering for two years and now that they have been lifted we have not had our regular exposure and so have fewer defences than we might otherwise.

That seems to be the way of things now. We are living through the unforeseen consequences of our desperate actions. The overflowing hospitals, the doctors and nurses leaving their professions because they are overwhelmed by the relentless tide still rising, threatening to drown us all. We have all been broken in some way it seems by these last, long one thousand days. We have lost the order of things and are fighting now to regain solid ground. Everyone is disoriented, haunted somewhat, wishing that life could just be for a little while.

We all react differently to this unsettling new world. There were the protesters of course, trying to overthrow the Dominion and restore some mythical lost world. They still remain, though dwindling in number, convinced of a grand conspiracy and the need for action. There are those whose sense of personal safety has been so completely shattered that they demand a return to the quarantine strictures and the cocoon of safety it provided. Others complain about how terrible everything has become, our governments inept and flailing, our institutions revealed as ineffectual, and madmen everywhere. To them we have entered an inevitable decline as a civilization from which we shall not recover.

I remain hopeful for a future despite all the turmoil of this current moment. Like the first thousands days of the Grippe Reborn, this moment too will pass. What our battle with the Dread Lord has revealed is what we can achieve when we work together. For so long we have heard how little we as individuals can do to thwart the great crises of our day like climate change. It is a way by which those who wish to do nothing can excuse themselves from feeling guilty. But we have now seen what is possible if we work together at something. We can turn aside the Dread Lord. We are capable of so much more than we allow ourselves to believe.

Notes on the Grippe

Day Nine Hundred Ninety Five

Our bodies betray us. Day after day, time marches on, and we are not what we believe we are. The face in the mirror looks different than the one in our minds. There is sagging here and pudginess there, a slouching kind of inevitability. Fight against it as much as we can, it remains. Worse, we are forced to realize that we are made of flesh and blood, shit and piss, phlegm and other dripping things. Hacking and coughing, sniffling and sweating, exuding noxious and unpleasant fluids.

The Dread Lord Grippe Reborn is diminished, a shadow of his former terror, yet still present, still insidious. Joining him in the general clamour of the gloomy first days of winter are the disputants for his crown. How much longer will he hold it while they marshal their powers and battle for supremacy. None of them will claim it for some time, we can hope, but we will all still suffer and wheeze as they move among us.

My love and I were both felled by one of the disputants a few weeks ago. An annual occurrence that had been pleasantly absent these last few years of quarantine restrictions, one of their few benefits. Their absence may have made the return all the worse though, for both of us were quite miserable for a week or so. It seems everyone is suffering these last weeks, the shelves bare of medicine, the doctor’s offices filled with coughing petitioners. Another of the great benefits of our quarantined years, we can now stay home from the office while sick without guilt or recrimination.

There have been some benefits, it is easy to forget, but the price paid was so dear. I wonder, when we have time to look back on all of this, to see all that came to pass, to measure the results of it all, what we will say was worth doing and what our mistakes were.