OSSINING, NEW YORK --- It's Easter Monday, April 13. It's precisely one month to the day since I took my last train ride home out of Manhattan. That was a Friday the 13th, and New York City's luck was fast running out.
It's been running out every day since.
When the time comes to look back at the Covid-19 pandemic, and God willing it will come sooner rather than later, all of us will have those moments to ponder, the days and hours when we realized that all was not normal, not well, not getting better any time soon.
That train ride will be one of mine. For one thing the train was almost empty. That had been ever more the case on my commuter line as the third month of the year ticked off the days running up to its traditional high point, March 17, St. Patrick's Day.
The trains would keep running, if only to afford transport to emergency workers who would need to get to grips with the growing emergency in a city that bills itself as the capital of the world.
As March rolled on into April, New York City would become another kind of standout: the city in the world most ravaged by Covid-19 in the state in America most ravaged by Covid-19. And, the final indignity: the most stricken city in the most stricken country in the world.
We have come to measure the bad days, and the ever so slightly better days, by numbers. New York City, with its population of over eight million, and New York State with its population of around 19 million, have been reeling from the daily numbers of new Covid cases and deaths.
Robbed of life
Easter Monday is the sixth straight day of more than 700 deaths in the city. The highest one day death toll in the five boroughs was 799, that being on Wednesday, April 8.
One shy of 800. That amounts to the good news. One short of 800!
The numbers tell us much. But of course not everything, not even close.
Families are being robbed of life and love, hope and futures. We want to be angry, but first we have to beat this thing.
I would dearly love to know how many more days before we can really fight back against the virus, with a vaccine, with drugs. But that's the one damn number that remains out of sight.
I remember another train journey back to our home town which is, give or take, an hour north of Midtown Manhattan.
That other journey was on 9/11. There were more people on that train than the March 13 one. But they were all silent.
A difference between then and now was that I rode back into the city on September 12.
I can hear the trains, running on a much reduced schedule, from our home. There goes one now. I have no idea when I will board one into the capital of the world and its silent, empty, stricken streets.
And that weighs oh so heavily.
Ray O'Hanlon is Editor of the Irish Echo, the biggest weekly newspaper serving Irish America