Surgical masks and disposable plastic gloves basically count as an invincibility cloak, right?

The Skinny • No. 30 | Death

What are we skinning? Death.

Why are we skinning it? Malta has just been hit with its very first COVID-19 deaths. Also, it’s kind of a universal thing that bears thinking about every once in a while. You know, for fun.

Listen, death is the last thing I want to think about, much less have a pseudo-Socratic back-and-forth on national media over the in the wake of the most alarming pandemic we’ve faced in recent history. But don’t you want to think about it just a *little* bit? Come on, give in to the Freudian death drive...

Okay, fine. What glitteringly original insights do you have about this perennial subject that has not been covered at all by anyone ever? I wouldn’t say original, but I’d mention a couple of things that I feel are relevant to the current scenario, right here and right now.

Go on... Well, Malta’s first COVID-19 deaths are certainly a tipping point in our narrative with the pandemic so far.

How so? We all knew that, sadly, they will be coming, and we share in the grief of the families that are affected by them. And now that they’ve finally happened, we are left waiting for the next development of COVID-19 in our country, whatever form it may take... though some of our neighbours can offer up doom-laden clues.

It makes you feel stuck. Yes, it’s like waiting for the other shoe to drop. Only it’s not a shoe, but the latest unspecified omen of a frustratingly hard-to-grapple-with viral pandemic.

But if we all knew that death was coming, and that our role right now is to #stayhome and wait this out as best we can. How’s this week any different to the last? But that’s just it. There WAS a change this week – Malta’s first COVID deaths – but the protocol remains unchanged, understandably enough. We are all urged to tackle uncertainty together, with a firm set of pre-established behaviours that are our only ballast in an unprecedented and unchanging situation.

It’s jarring, yes. But what can you do? Nothing, apart from stay home as much as possible and raise the alarm about symptoms when you get them. But it’s a fresh powerlessness that many of us may not be all that used to.

It’s strange that something so constant and undeniable as death inspires so many conflicting emotions. Yeah, then you remember how it’s the main motivator behind why we have kids and make art, among many other things...

Do say: “The first reported COVID-19 deaths on the island are a stark if expected reminder of the severity of this pandemic, and should steel our reserve to handle it with care, determination and a wise adherence to the established health precautions.”

Don’t say: “Surgical masks and disposable plastic gloves basically count as an invincibility cloak, right?”

More in The Skinny