Story of a Fatherless Daughter

Image: Suzy Hazelwood
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By LETICIA O. FERNANDES*

Gravity and violence go hand in hand

Wednesday, May fifth, two thousand and twenty-one. Eleven hours and fifteen minutes. This is the day and time that my father's death is stamped on the death certificate.

When signing the funeral home and insurance papers, I am instructed to fill in “natural death”, rather than “violence” or even “serious illness”. Hearing this, I look at my sister, who looks back at me equally indignantly.

Gravity was wide open in the silent farewell via video call just before he was intubated, in which we only heard the sound of the machines that surrounded him from his side.

The seriousness was wide open in the amount of invasive procedures he had to undergo, and which we, with our hearts in our hands, had to authorize. It was in the weakening of a person who was always so strong and resistant.

Gravity was wide open in the exercise of patience that we, during more than forty days of hospitalization, were forced to carry out. In the impasse of making, every day, the decision to go or not to visit him (for some reason, the hospital he was in allowed visits, which scared us but inevitably comforted us). In my mother's effort to record audios every day communicating to friends and family about his health status. In learning about medications, procedures, therapies and work dynamics of the multidisciplinary team (what a difference a valued professional makes!).

Gravity was wide open in the moments when he briefly awoke and had no voice to speak. Not even the strength to write with a pen – and the pain I feel and will feel for the rest of my life of not having been present at that moment. In the pain I felt in going to visit him and seeing him more unrecognizable every day. Of having a closed-casket ceremony and not being able to hug the very few friends and family who were able to be there, and those who weren't.

Severity refers to the disease. The macabre and unpredictable effects it has on someone's body, whether young or old. The measures that are necessary for the medical team to try to save someone in critical condition, or the distancing measures so that we do not spread the virus even further.

Violence was wide open in the early hours when the doctor on duty called us to say that an ICU bed was not available, because at the peak of the second wave, even one of the best private hospitals in São Paulo was operating above maximum capacity.

Violence was wide open at visiting times when we saw brothers splitting up, one to visit the mother, another, the father.

Violence was wide open when the day finally arrived when my father would be vaccinated, but he couldn't go because he was already sick, intubated, unconscious. In the fact that he died of a disease for which there is already a vaccine.

Violence comes from hearing acquaintances insinuating that he should have had early treatment and poisoned himself, as so many people have done who are now at InCor fighting not only against COVID, but also against kidney failure.

Violence is in the retirement that had just started to fall into his account.

The violence lies in the fact that he spent his birthday in the hospital, alone.

In the amount of interrupted plans of someone so full of life and desires. My father was learning to sing. My father was going to create a blog to tell the stories he had lived and heard his father tell, and to share the extensive knowledge of music that he had. My father couldn't wait to visit his mother in Mato Grosso do Sul.

Violence is in the fact that my family's pain, although very great, cannot be compared to the pain of someone who lost someone to lack of oxygen, to lack of medication, of someone who was forced to be intubated without sedation. – very, very common scenes of a perverse State, which leaves everyone to their own fate, with the endorsement of an opportunistic bourgeoisie that continues to profit from it. Which scraps and overloads the SUS – whose strength is the only reason why not many more people have died yet.

Gravity and violence go hand in hand, since the less legislation, the less supervision, the less planning and the longer it takes to distribute the vaccine, the more the virus mutates and the more transmissible and dangerous it can become. .

My father only had access to all the care because we had enough money.

A common scene at the height of neoliberalism, where everyone makes their own health, where everyone invents their own distancing protocols, everyone becomes their own judge of health security. Or even abandon care altogether, some out of self-deception, some out of tiredness, others for seeing their own business go bankrupt without any support from the State, many others for lacking the basics – running water, food on the table, a house (of preferably one where the police don't come in killing).

My family didn't have to choose between eating and isolating themselves. We were able to stay at home. But without coordinated combat, any individual effort is simply postponing the inevitable. And so, any misstep, small or large, becomes lethal. And it was.

Leticia O. Fernandes

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