There have been moments during this pandemic — which has tended to have me thinking way too much anyway — when a thought comes to mind that haunts me and hurts me:

I’m glad my mother isn’t here for all this.

Sometimes, that feels like such a terrible notion; sometimes, it feels like a blessing.

My mother died a year ago last March, and not a day goes by that I don’t think about her. Lately, I’ve also been wondering how she might have dealt with the COVID-19 onslaught that has devoured our lives.

Unfortunately, I think I know the answer. She would have been miserable: terrified of being infected by this coronavirus and depressed about feeling isolated and not being able to go out and, say, shop at Walmart as she loved to do regularly. Her life would have been plagued by anxiety and, most likely, a consequent feeling of helplessness. She certainly would have been worried about being around other people.

That would have included people like me, I suppose. I’m out in the public every day and could potentially be facing whatever viruses are in circulation here. My mother might have been concerned about being around me, which would have bothered me (and her) a lot.

What makes me feel even worse is my sense of sad relief that she isn’t around for this. I would be constantly worried about her; so, too, would my brother and sister and their families. Every cough, every uptick in her temperature would have caused us to imagine the worst. At least we don’t have that to deal with now … which also makes me feel guilty.

No doubt, the media’s relentless coverage of the pandemic would have driven my mother to other forms of TV viewing (old movies on TCM work for me), but she couldn’t have escaped how much the pandemic would have impacted her life, nor could she have ignored the manner in which this country has dealt with the coronavirus. I think the lack of a principled, informed course of action would have driven her crazy. She would have wanted to hear only from health experts, not from politicians.

For instance, my mother would have found nothing funny whatsoever about President Trump’s “joke” last weekend about slowing down the pace of the nation’s COVID testing — if in fact it was a joke, as the White House said it was … but Trump himself then said it wasn’t. Instead, she would have wondered why anyone would either want such a thing or, given the death toll, joke about it.

I wouldn’t have blamed her.

In a way, these really shouldn’t be uncertain times. There should be a certain, cogent, clear purpose in how we deal with this pandemic. The science should be guiding us and fueling our resolve in addressing it.

For instance, we shouldn’t see the wearing — or NOT wearing — of face masks being turned into some kind of political flashpoint. There is no rational sense in that at all. And yet, here we are.

We shouldn’t have leadership undercutting and contradicting the science we need to get through this pandemic. But that’s being done almost daily.

And a nation like this shouldn’t be pursuing courses guided by hunches, internet rumors and long shots (hydroxychloroquine anyone?).

But with COVID-19, America has been a  disaster. A quick scan of the charts comparing coronavirus cases in this country to other nations makes that grimly clear. As some critics have noted, it seems sometimes that we’ve just given up on trying. We’re “reopening” the country while the virus remains unchecked, which is like opening the windows of a house while a monsoon is still lashing away. Now the White House is reportedly thinking about lifting the nation’s social distancing guidelines, basically as a means of declaring an illusionary election-year victory over a virus for which there is no vaccine, no treatment or no end in sight.

So, frankly, I’m relieved that my mother isn’t here to endure any of this.

I can’t really say she would have been angry about it all because that wasn’t the way she generally processed things. Instead, she would have been quietly upset and, in darker moments, panicked. She would have been calling me on the phone on a lot of late nights to share her anxieties, worrying for herself and for the rest of her family. It would have made this struggle even harder to bear.

It makes me feel for the people who ARE facing that struggle with their own elders and/or at-risk loved ones right now. It adds an incredible weight to the burdens of the moment — a moment that could be, and should be, playing out differently and much more smartly.

Follow @kelly_hertz on Twitter.

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