My brother has COVID…
My brother Justin has COVID-19.
Only one year younger than me, he has consistently failed to keep a steady job his entire adult life. Yet somehow, he manages to survive as a 40-something by renting a room in Newport Beach in order to live life of a twenty something.
He has kept in very good shape, via a regular practice of mixed martial arts- otherwise known as the strategic anger sport. Or at least that’s what I call it. A sport where one can be strategic, yet angry. Very angry. It keeps him fit, and full of rage.
Well, last weekend, he decided it would be a swell idea to head out to the bars to frolick with all the Southern Californians who have delightfully put their heads in the proverbial sand, in favor of drinking it up in as if it was 2019, without any masks or social distancing. Should you visit this area of Southern California, you’d soon see that most folks would rather pretend this pandemic is just a gross over-reaction bythe media. Sure, it won’t affect me, they think. I’m young. I can beat it. I won’t live in fear. And so it goes. What about the older folks then? Let’s come back to that in a minute.
Anyhoo, Justin is out and about partying with his friends last week, and then suddenly gets the swell idea to drive to Las Vegas to meet up with some other friends. Of course, another ignorant city of partying, sans masks! What a swell idea. So off he goes. His Instagram story read:
“Who’s ready to booze and gamble tonight?”
Friday night, Justin began to feel sick. He thought it could have been a cold, so continued about his Vegas filled evening, bar hopping with one basic man friend after another. Rum was his friend. That night, at 8:15pm, I saw a photo of him on his Facebook account, sitting at a bar wearing a tank top with Bruce Lee on it. He was holding a high-ball glass of rum on the rocks. His caption read:
“Bruce Lee says ‘be like rum.’”
A blonde girl in the background lunged forward with a party-filled expression, cocking her head as if to say this was a veritable spring-break wild-with-abandon moment.
So that was Friday.
By Saturday, he really felt like dog, but figured he’d continue partying through it. What else does a 40 something responsible man do? Of course.
By Sunday, he was so hungover he could not make it back home — so decided to book another night at the hotel, eat room service, and watch Maury Povich reruns. As any good upstanding angry 40 something-year old would do. Of course. Such class, and flare.
Well- flash forward to Monday night. He’s back home in Newport, and has suddenly lost his sense of smell and taste. That’s right, friends. And, his roommate has tested positive for COVID-19. The same roommate he’d been out partying with a few days before. Except his roommate is a twenty-something- so much more able to recover quickly. Back to my ‘living the lifestyle of a twenty something’ note from earlier. Is this lifestyle of a twenty-something today all about risky behavior, getting COVID-19, and getting over it quickly? Gone is the keg stand. In is the mask-less bar hopping in Coronavirus style.
God knows how many people my brother Justin encountered, while infected with COVID-19, during his wild Vegas weekend. Gambling, boozing, and bar hopping. Spring break girl-hanging. There’s really no limit to the number of people he’s touched physically or even just via what he’s touched, and what people touched after him. Even right down to the video poker machine he posted to his Instagram stories where he seemed be up $2,432. Well done, Justin, well done. While you’re up 2k, you’ve brought society down a few more notches, and prevented us all from progressing further in this pandemic by virtue of how many you’d spread this to, and counting. How can we really know who may have contracted it from him, and now be in a hospital? Hopefully none, but we’ll never really know. It’s fairly certain many older folks visit Las Vegas casinos regularly, and so the odds are, an old person most definitely touched the poker machine he played on. It’s sad, really.
My brother is now home. It’s been a solid week since he contracted the virus. The bar where he contracted it has since been shut down as evidently the staff had COVID-19. No shit, Sherlock. Some real brain surgeons down there in Newport, I tell ya. All proceeding with business as usual. No mask. Folks squeezed in partying at a bar. Of course they are.
So, it’s been one week, and my brother’s sense of smell and taste is now returning. He is taking zinc. It’s all I can do to forget the anger of his recklessness and hope he pulls through it, which I think he will….that said — the virus is a son of a b*tch that typically puts its victims through various stages of hell, at least from what I’ve read. It seems to be different for everyone — but even those who are fit seem to struggle with it for several weeks at least. So, its only been one week.
I pray my brother isn’t entering some dark stage of hell this coming week, where even though his sense of smell has returned, he may be plunging into some “I can’t breathe” hell. If so, I sincerely hope he is ready to drive himself to a hospital because my 60-something year old nurse mother is CERTAINLY not coming to his rescue again, as she has all his life. She will not go down with this reckless irrational ship of “I must have my instantaneous pleasure now.” “I must drink at bars and party now, and I do not wear a mask because I do not care.” No, she will not help that personality. Sorry, but even though he is my brother, some lesson must be learned here.
So, its been a difficult weekend in thinking about this, and the emotion of it all weighing on my mother, and myself, in loving him, and hoping he pulls through.
But, my mother and I both decided it wasn’t worth being angry. And to just love him through it as always...
I sent Justin a GIF of Christopher Robin hugging Winnie the Pooh. This really breaks through the anger, and really, is as much a reminder to myself of how I truly feel about him as it is a way to love him most simply. Almost as if we were little children again, playing. I love him, forever. No matter who he has become in this life. Even though we could not be more different, I’ll continue to look past his cloud of anger and misinformation which fogs his thinking. I still love his higher self which he can no longer see, the real him.
God speed to all of us as we navigate through this dark closet of unknowing. And may the inappropriate behavior from our fellow humans not hold us all collectively back from healing soon.