13 October 20XX
My Dear Lucilius:
Sad news – we have had our first local death.
Young Xerxes stopped by and gave me the news. An older couple, one I do not recall meeting except perhaps at the July Fourth Celebration, who apparently – simply – gave up. He was, apparently, a diabetic with limited insulin. Not many other details from young Xerxes except that they simply “Gave up.” At their request, their things are to parceled out to the community as needed.
There are the usual issues, of course: the practical issue of burial (the ground here is not precisely easy to turn at this time of year), how their possessions are to be distributed (someone suggested creating a depot of sorts at the building that has become a sort of community center), and of course the lingering thought on the back of everyone’s mind (and now undoubtedly at the forefront): the reality of death.
I wonder, Lucilius, even in the short period since the official “Holiday”, how many have died. For me, it seems an abstract thought in a way: I am hundreds of miles from a major metropolis, but surely some have. How many? Scores? Hundreds? Thousands? Unless things rapidly return to normal – and how unlikely that seems today – it will be millions.
But even in that, there are two issues. On the one hand, there are those who will die from privation and lack of food, of shelter, of warmth, of medical care – of basic needs. The others – like those here – are those that will die from lack of hope.
A lack of hope? It seems like such an odd thing to die from, does it not? Yet for other thousands – or perhaps millions – there has been a passing away of the old order that is perhaps not likely to ever return. It is one thing – even where we live – to live through a harsh week of Winter or a power outage that lasts a few days. We have done that before. But to look forward into the future and see…. Chaos. Disruption. No sense of things ever returning to the way the were before. That, my friend, is a gap that so many have never considered at length.
The cynical side of me asks if this has always been the case, or really just the last 10-15 years. Our national spending out of control, our deficits beyond what we could repay in three lifetimes, the personal finances of so many financed by debt, a society where the ability to live without working was almost as profitable as working.
Perhaps, in that sense, we were always staring at this abyss. It is just that the view has finally been revealed.
Your Obedient Servant, Seneca