By Alice Roberts
After catching COVID-19 that required a brief stay in the hospital, President Trump blithely said, “Don’t let it take over your lives.”
It’s much too late for that, of course. For my family and me, it took over our lives when it took my husband, Rob.
Rob was a beloved police officer and likely contracted COVID-19 while working an overtime shift, like he often did, to help support our family of three kids, two geckos, a dog, a cat and two hamsters. Many shifts were open in his department because his colleagues were becoming sick with the virus. By April, eight of them tested positive out of a department of about 24 people.
Rob’s first COVID-19 test was mislabeled, and the second one took too long to come back. When he collapsed at our home, we still did not know he had it. His coworkers rushed to our house and resuscitated him, risking their own lives to save his. In the hospital, a talented team of doctors and nurses gave him powerful drugs, and he recovered from the virus. However, Rob’s brain never rebounded from the lack of oxygen from when he collapsed.
In the hospital, Rob’s mother and I saw him in person only twice because of restrictions during the pandemic — first on Mother’s Day, and then the next morning when he was taken off the ventilator. He was 45 years old.
President Trump only sees people in terms of winners and losers. So, let us calculate the losses we have endured these past 10 months under his failed leadership.
For me, I have lost my husband. Years ago, Rob and I met at a charity basketball game of “teachers versus police officers.” We were on opposite sides that day. But for the next 20 years, we built a life together, getting married, buying a fixer-upper in my hometown and raising a family. This school year, I have taken unpaid time off from teaching – a job I love – which means I have lost my benefits, as well as my salary. Like many working parents, I had no one to watch my kids as they learn from home.
Our children have lost their dad, who helped them with their homework, coached them on their many sports teams, and taught them to always be kind to others. My eighth- and 11th-grade daughters are learning 100% virtually now. My son, who is in fifth grade, insisted on going to school, despite my fears that he could get sick, too. Allowing him to see some peers seemed important right now.
Our community lost an excellent police officer. After he died, I found an award he got for saving lives that he had tossed in his closet. He was proud to be a cop but did not think much of accolades. He just wanted to help people. While on domestic calls, he would often sit with families going through some of their darkest moments, telling them that it would be alright. At Rob’s funeral, people came out by the thousands for the procession through our small borough. I wanted to tell everyone that it would be alright, like he would have.
Our nation is on the losing side of a battle with this pandemic. Millions of Americans have lost their jobs, potentially their homes, too. We’ve all lost our freedoms to go about our daily lives, whether it’s going to school, the movies or the YMCA, without the fear that we could get sick.
We have lost more than 216,000 Americans who weren’t able to escape COVID-19 the way President Trump did. Instead of responding to the pandemic by bringing the nation together and doing whatever it would take to control the pandemic, he ignored it, downplayed it, and pointed fingers. And instead of using his own recovery to show empathy, level with the public, and admit he was wrong —something that could have made a difference — he chose vanity, acting like he knows more than the scientists, including Dr. Anthony Fauci.
As our collective losses continue to pile up, what has President Trump lost? Nothing. At least not yet. My hope is that he loses this election.
Before this year, I never made too many pleas in life. But I have made plenty these past several months. First, a plea for my husband’s life. Then, a plea for my kids to have a semblance of normalcy.
Now, I have one for anybody who supports President Trump or for voters who are still on the fence. I plead with you to remember his lack of action after learning the true dangers of the virus in January. Consider the long-term consequences that his failed pandemic response has had on first responders, doctors, nurses, workers, students, teachers, and families. Think of how much more we still stand to lose if we re-elect President Trump who, time and again, has shown us who he is, mask off.
It’s too late to prevent this virus from taking over our lives at this moment. But we still have time to make sure it doesn’t define our future if we stand together in this election and vote out President Trump.
Alice Roberts is the widow of Charles “Rob” Roberts who died from COVID-19 at the age of 45. Mr. Roberts’ death was the first line of duty death in the Glen Ridge Police Department’s history.
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