By all means think positive, hopeful thoughts, and certainly do whatever you can to minimise the effects of this plague; console, comfort, and treat anyone who’s been infected or is at risk. But it’s not too early to take a deep breath and begin to imagine a world in which some, perhaps many, people you know are going to die: people who are evidently at risk, people whom one can suppose ‘Yes, I can see how he might be one of the casualties’, people whom you’d never guess would be stricken down by something akin to an overpowered influenza.
We have abundant reason to think that all the systems that sustain our daily routine will be affected.
We have abundant reason to think that our loved ones, our neighbours, will be as susceptible as are people in faraway lands.
Two and a half weeks ago, we reminded people ‘You are dust, and to dust you shall return.’ That’s true even under sunny skies in robust health — but for the next few months, we will probably have to live it out, day by day. It’s time to start bracing ourselves, and one another.