Tuesday, August 16

Transit in solitude



One of the most terrible images that we remember of the pandemic is that of the coffins lined up in the Ice Palace in Madrid. In the lead weeks, the facility became an emergency morgue, a makeshift mortuary where between sixty and seventy deceased died each day, as the coffins arrived with the collapsed funeral services. Thousands of Spaniards died in the most ignominious of solitudes, whether in a nursing home or in a hospital room. With or without respirators, they faced death alone, helpless, abandoned. Without saying goodbye to the families or knowing with certainty that their time had come.

Then, once inert, they were accompanied. Not at a mass wake,

but yes simple. Five priests from the nearby parish of Our Lady of the Americas took turns officiating a response on the ice rink, at five below zero. Five cures with mask, nitrile gloves, purple stole and swab in hand to proclaim the word of God amidst desolation, to bring peace and hope to that sinister space, to dismiss them with the dignity they deserve in the face of their families’ impossibility of doing so. Even the Defense Minister, Margarita Robles, visibly moved, highlighted the support from our military in the act of closing the morgue, “because we never leave our soldiers alone.” It seems in such a dehumanized society, dying in peace and in the company of loved ones, something that was the norm decades ago, is on the way to becoming a luck, a gift from destiny, a privilege.

This week, when we have not yet come out of our amazement at the hidden and lonely death of Ágata Lys, The finding in a Palencia apartment of the corpse of an 85-year-old man has transcended totally “skeletonized”, since his death could have occurred in May of last year. That is to say, more than a year and a half of body present in his own home on Pastores street -a most Christmas altarpiece-, without odors and without anyone noticing anything strange. The deceased was of a sullen character and only had one brother his age, but someone – neighbors, social services, banks … – should sound the alarm after eighteen months without movement or being seen. An event that already occurs relatively frequently not only in large cities, so the Police ask for maximum citizen collaboration.

A mailbox, blinds and the physical absence itself for days can put us on notice. Elephants have the instinct to separate from the herd to die and thus not hinder their march, but then they stop as a sign of respect for the bones. Some humans do not separate themselves from the world, but they isolate themselves between four walls and one day they die in the worst possible way: alone and without anyone missing them. Tremendous.

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