An anthology of essays by individuals who lost loved ones to Covid, Who We Lost, edited by Martha Greenwald, will be published on May 9, 2023, by Belt Publishing. An essay that I wrote specifically for this volume is included. Order your copy now from the publisher and booksellers everywhere. (Support your independent bookseller!)
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After my father died of COVID-19 in May 2020, I have followed various groups online that advocate for those of us who lost loved ones in the ongoing pandemic and for those who advocate for justice as well as for preparation for the next pandemic, as there certainly will be one.
There are many memorial groups, more than I know of, I think. There is a movement to establish a national Covid memorial day for the victims, on the first Monday each March, which has attracted the support of senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey and representatives including Greg Stanton. There is a design proposal and plan for a gasp-inducing and beautiful virtual Covid monument:
The most effective have been those that collect stories, those that ask us to look beyond the mind-numbing and sometimes overwhelming statistics and instead see that each number is a story of a full life cut short, those that invite us to meet and honor those we lost.
Martha Greenwald, a poet, editor, and teacher from Louisville, Kentucky, started the Who We Lost project early in the pandemic. Her goal was and is to build safe space for those like my mom, sister, and me to share memories of our lost family member, free from the worst that social media too often forces on us. The safety is as needed as the memories are: A former TV personality asked me on Twitter to show her my father’s death certificate because she was convinced that the pandemic was a hoax. There may be a time and a place for that conversation, and there may be people stronger than I am who can have that conversation, but Twitter is not the place, the week my dad died was not the time, and an accusation is rarely a conversation-opener.
Martha has also organized a similar site for those in her state of Kentucky, WhoWeLostKY, which she has expanded to include testimonies from loved ones left bereft by other natural disasters.
Who We Lost is the first book that includes something that I wrote. It may remain the only book I will appear in. I wish my father was here to see this, of course. I think that everyone published in the book has a similar wish as does Martha herself. In the past, my work won an award for a newspaper once, and stuff by me has appeared in other newspapers, magazines, this website right here, a comedy show on YouTube, radio comedy, but not yet a book. Once upon a time, I assumed bigger things for my career, a shelf of books with my name on their spines, but I am an easily distracted sort. This is my first, and I am proud that my contribution is something that honors my dad and my family. Who We Lost will be published on May 9, one day before the third anniversary of my dad’s death.
The book has started to receive top-tier attention, which is exciting. Publishers Weekly recently offered a laudatory preview of Who We Lost: “Poignant and practical, this is a wonderful resource for those seeking an outlet for their grief.”
Mark Aldrich is a journalist, award-winning humor columnist, and writer/performer with the Magnificent Glass Pelican radio comedy improv group, now in its thirty-second season:
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
I’m so sorry you lost your father, Mark, but this project sounds like a beautiful way to remember him and others.
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