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Why I Had to Cut Contact With This 'Friend' During the Pandemic

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I lost a handful of friends during the last year as a direct result of their response to the pandemic itself, whether it be their flippant attitude toward COVID-19 or their outright denial the pandemic even existed at all. I had one so-called friend go so far as to outrightly state he believed “the elderly and immunocompromised were acceptable losses if it meant reopening the country and bolstering the economy.” I couldn’t even bring myself to argue or debate his point of view with him — I just unfriended him and ceased all contact then and there.

It was during the height of the pandemic in New York at that time, before immunizations were even available. While much of the rest of the country had only begun to have COVID-19 cases appearing, my local news was full of daily stories of refrigerated trucks full of bodies because the morgues were overflowing. Nursing homes were on lockdown as seniors died left and right.

On a more personal level, my husband’s elderly aunt had just been diagnosed. One of my husband’s mother’s longtime friends had already been hospitalized in the intensive care unit (ICU) for a month with COVID, with another month yet to go before she finally came home. Between my husband and I during those first few early months in New York, we personally knew of over a dozen people who had contracted it, and only three had survived. As the months went on, the numbers of people we knew, both of those diagnosed and those who died, continued to grow exponentially. In that first year, one of my husband’s friends lost three cousins within one week, and a woman I used to cheerlead with when we were kids lost both of her parents within days.

Nevermind the fact I myself am considered high risk due to the tumors on my brain. He knew of my diagnosis, yet either it slipped his mind entirely I was among those he felt were expendable, or in his eyes, my life and other lives like mine were worth sacrificing to keep prices down and the stock market up. Either way, in that instant it was clear he didn’t truly see me as a friend, or as someone whose life held any value at all.

Of all the friends I lost over the course of the pandemic regarding COVID-19 itself, that one stung the most. The friends who believed COVID was a hoax or no worse than the flu were all taking issue with science itself, not me in particular. To hear him argue I was expendable, that he considered some of my loved ones to be expendable, that he’d consider any life at all to be worth throwing away for the sake of a small boost to the economy was honestly heart-wrenching.

Thankfully, I had other friends who were more supportive and caring, friends who would check in periodically to see how I was feeling and who understood fully why I stayed home more often than not even after things began to open back up. It wasn’t about being afraid of a virus because I had seen all too well what COVID was capable of doing. It was about accepting I was among a vulnerable group of people and taking whatever precautions I felt were necessary to keep myself safe.

I still find myself sad thinking about the loss of that friendship and others like it. However, I know in my heart I would not have been an acceptable loss. None of those we knew who survived would have been acceptable losses, either, had they died. And all those who did ultimately die were absolutely not acceptable losses. The only acceptable loss in my opinion in that situation was that friendship.

Even if he realized after the fact what he had said and apologized, I don’t think I ever could forgive nor could I forget because in that moment, he showed me exactly where I stood with him. And when someone shows you who they are, you should believe them.

Getty image by franckreporter

Originally published: November 24, 2021
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