I had my second COVID-19 shot two weeks ago … and I had a reaction. At 2 a.m., two nights after the shot, I was lying on the couch at my suite at the Hotel Beacon, which is where I call home when I’m in New York City, and every one of my joints was killing me. I had a fever. My head was pounding. The moon was out, and I was lying there, looking out the window at the stars. I thought of my friend Cathy Montez, who finally succumbed to this dreaded disease five months after beginning her fight last June. Twice on ventilators. Raspy, breathless conversations with her in late July after she got off the ventilator the first time about her regret over taking a SoulCycle class in Miami (seriously, Cathy?) and her desire to live so she could see the fu*#@er D.T. beaten in November. She almost made it. She died a few days before the election.
I lay there thinking that I couldn’t remember feeling this bad. I lay there thinking that Cathy had felt this bad for five months, and she’d been on a ventilator and alone in a hospital room filled with machines or with strangers — and perhaps most frightening of all, every single night, she’d been terrified that she might not make it.
I knew I could lie there for a few hours and not complain one single bit. I knew that I could embrace how awful I felt in order to connect with her and how she must have felt much of the time as she fought her losing battle. I knew I could take a moment to think about the fact that more than 500,000 Americans had felt this bad and worse, and had been terrified out of their minds, and that I could choose to take this time when sleep couldn’t find a place to settle in me to recognize their lives and their deaths.
I am good now. I’m great. The fever broke at around 4 a.m. that morning, and I was up and about in a matter of a few hours. I am grateful to have had that time on the couch to think about my friend Cathy again (though actually, I think about her most days).
We are lucky, you and I. Every one of us is lucky. We can come out the other side and recognize our obligation to live our best lives in these times when life is so very, very fragile. I do this. I thank the powers that be for keeping me safe and giving me what we all hope will be the answer to making sure more Cathys don’t struggle and lose in the end.