Late in the day on Tuesday, December 31, 2019, the World Health Organization’s China Country Office received a report of a pneumonia of unknown cause in a patient in Wuhan, China. The WHO began to monitor the situation. They requested information about the lab tests being done and possible diagnoses. We now know that the cause was the Coronavirus or COVID-19.
Now, I don’t know exactly what time that report came through, but on Tuesday, December 31, 2019 at 9:03pm in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, I wrote the following words on Facebook:
The one thing this decade has taught me is that nothing is promised, nothing is certain. Nothing.
All we have is now.
For better or worse.
My hope for the new year is to meet each day with grace;
To live each day to the fullness of my ability;
To love wholly and completely;
To appreciate all that I have;
To pursue my dreams;
To work hard and diligently;
To remain curious about the world;
To embrace change as it comes;
To learn, forgive, and do better;
To be of service when called;
To fight for the justice of others, especially those unable to do so for themselves; and
To be a light and a blessing to my loved ones.
I deeply and passionately wish the same for you all in 2020.
Since that day, there have been 1,430,528 cases at least 184 countries and territories. We have lost 82,023 souls; and 301,828 people have recovered from the virus. In the United States, early numbers show that Black Americans appear to be contracting and dying from COVID-19 at a higher rate than white Americans. As horrifying as this is, I was not surprised to learn this. Black Americans are more likely to have underlying health conditions, such as asthma, diabetes, hypertension, high blood pressure, obesity, and other chronic illnesses. We are also more likely to have low wage jobs that can't be done remotely; and lack access to adequate health care. Click here, here, here, here, and here to learn more.
It’s a terrifying picture. But this is what we know. This is what we know today, at the time that I am writing this post, which is 9:00pm on Tuesday, April 7, 2020 …
Today would have been first rehearsal for my play, Edges of Time, at PlayMakers Repertory Company. This is a one woman play about the life, legacy, and career of the remarkable, investigative journalist Marvel Cooke, who worked as a reporter and editor in New York City from the late-1920s to the early 1960s. But it’s also more than that. It’s about what happens when political ideas are weaponized; when journalism and truth are attacked; and when powerful voices that represent and demand justice and civil rights for marginalized communities are silenced. The play is far too relevant than I anticipated when I began writing it.
I had been looking forward to today for a long time, but nothing is promised. Nothing. Not even hard won, long hoped for days.
But I didn’t wake up feeling sad or disappointed. I didn’t have an ache for what today should have been. Instead, I woke up feeling grateful. I felt grateful to be alive, to be healthy or at least not sick, to have a job where I get to teach (remotely) and make theatre alongside some truly smart, funny, generous, and talented people, and to know so few people who have been tragically impacted by the virus.
But I know that all of this could change at any moment ... and I spend a lot of days angry at the response to this crisis and afraid of how easily this virus can be spread ...
Deep breaths ...
Here is what I also know:
It is not safe to gather together today. And we don’t know how long we’ll be asked to remain apart and inside, but the longer we do the better chance we’ll have at protecting ourselves, our loved ones, and our neighbors.
But know this, the world that we return to will be very different from the one we left. It will have to be. My God, we should do everything possible to make sure that it is, and that the structures of inequities and systems of oppression that were in place are no longer ruling over us ... that is my hope anyway.
In the meantime, I’m going to write. I'm going to write because there will come a time when we’ll able to gather again, and we will need the stories more than ever. We'll need bold, daring, beautiful stories to help us navigate this ever-changing world. Stories that remind us that love and hope and the fight for a better tomorrow are truly worthwhile endeavors. Stories that show us how wondrous, thrilling, and terrifying it can be … to be human.
I'm a playwright, dramaturg, and teaching artist. It is here where you'll find my queries and musings on life, theater and the world. My posts advocate for diversity, inclusion, and equity in the American Theatre and updates on my own work. Please enjoy!