Deaths Beyond Counting

A house on the 700 block of Waller caught my attention in June. As I walked by I noticed that the residents were displaying the current US COVID death toll in their front windows. Stickies formed the numbers of today’s total in one window while the other front window showed yesterday’s toll.

The windows on a residential street shocked in contrast to the cool, remote news reports of the pandemic’s impact. I walked by several times on my morning treks, watching the numbers grow, until on June 27 I decided the non-panoramic scene should be preserved as another Sign of the Plague.

Signs of the Plague - June 27, 2020. Death Toll 126,780

Window of a private residence on Waller.
The Waller Street House’s COVID US Death Count, June 27, 2020.

Whenever my morning walk took me into the neighborhood, I would check the window’s grim updates.

Mostly I just walked by the house, but on August 20th I decided to take another photo. Another 45,000 Americans had died, according to the Waller window.

Signs of the Plague - August 20, 2020. US Death Toll at 171,821

The Waller Street House’s COVID US Death Count, August 20, 2020

I didn’t look for a while in September, but I am still spooked and questioning about the message that stayed posted for quite a while after I took this picture.

Signs of the Plague - September 19, 2020. "I miss you so" In the windows of a house on Waller at Castro.

“I miss you so”
In the windows of a house on Waller at Castro. September 19, 2020.

First person singular… “I miss you so.”  So personal.
Did someone in the house die? Was there anything to do? I had no clue and still don’t. I checked back several times in the fall, but the message was the same haunting statement of loss.

I was actually relieved when I walked by in December and saw that the totals were back in the windows. The numbers were terrible, but I can handle numbers more than windows screaming emotion.

Signs of the Plague - December 5, 2020. Toll 275,386

The Waller Street House’s COVID US Death Count on December 5, 2020.

The windows continued to record the depth of the pandemic. Just 10 days after my first December walk-by, the of US dead had reached nearly 298,266.

Signs of the Plague, December 15, 2020. Toll 298,266

The Waller Street House’s COVID US Death Count on December 15, 2020. 298,266 Americans dead.

The news media was catching on to the rising numbers. Cable networks seemed in a competition to see who could most breathlessly announce that day’s milestone of bodies. Just four days after my last visit to Waller Street, 12,433 more of us had succumbed to the virus.

Signs of the Plague - December 19, 2020. Toll 317,489.

The Waller Street House’s COVID US Death Count December 19, 2020. 310,699 Americans had died.

In the last part of December the clear morning weather pointed me to heights with scenic vistas and memorable sunrises. So, I hadn’t visited Waller Street in a couple weeks before this morning’s fog directed me to a low-land walk.

I was prepared to see a jump in the number of dead Americans, but I hadn’t checked the actual totals. I was steeled to be upset by the total.

What I saw was worse.

Signs of the Plague - January 3, 2021

Waller Street House January 3, 2021.

There is no count. The windows have given up tracking. The total is just too much.

The stickies cannot measure infinite loss.


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One Response to Deaths Beyond Counting

  1. Amy Conger says:

    Wow, I hope you don’t mind sharing on Facebook.

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