Dying on Wednesday
~A story of the Spanish Influenza Epidemic of 1918~
I'm holding on for one last breath, one last moment on this earth. I don't want to go. I want to stay here with my newly born daughter.
The illness is spreading. Before I was too far gone, she had heard the doctors whisper, "Spanish influenza," "flu," and "death."They say that my baby is lucky to be alive, lucky to have not caught this terrible disease.
I had been reading about this epidemic in the papers. This is only supposed to happen on the East Coast and Europe! Not here! Not in San Francisco! Certainly, not in a hospital maternity ward.
There's forty-two mothers here. Seventeen of them will never get to hold her newborn child.
Life isn't fair! This isn't supposed to happen to me. I did everything right. I got fresh air, wore the mask, and didn't go where there was a lot of people. That's what I was supposed to do, right!
It's not enough.
I still got sick.
March 1918, it began with a soldier. By the end of the day, a hundred more were added. It spread so fast. Soldiers brought it to Europe on the way to war. Then, it came back. Boston in September at Fort Devens. There six thousand soldiers became ill. A week later so did the innocents. A month later over two hundred thousand Americans died.
My husband was in the first round of victims.
My father was one of the first civilians to die from the illness.
My mother and sister were Red Cross nurses. They caught it while trying to help others. They were trying to do the right thing and died because of it!
My younger brother urged me to come out here. The epidemic hadn't reached here yet. He got sent to France a few months ago to fight in the Great War. I haven't heard from him since.
The Great War going on across the sea. People didn't expect another war to be going on here. Now, this is the battlefield.
And I am on the losing side.
This is my final battle.
It's getting harder and harder to breath. I can feel my life force leaving me. My time has come.
It's time to go into the light.
I want to live, but I can't. I can no longer fight it.
Yesterday was Tuesday. I felt fine in the morning, went into labour late morning, gave birth in the early evening hours, and was ill late evening.
And dying on Wednesday.
My final breath draws closer.
The end is here...
Let someone good raise my daughter.
Dear America: Like the Willow Tree by Lois Lowry