Today marks the first anniversary death of Jazz Dixon. Not only was her life cut too short at 31 years of age, but she became the first known death due to COVID-19 in Saint Louis City where I live. I remember her today, because she lived. For all of us living, our monumental task has just begun. We cannot forget people like Jazz. We cannot forget how even with her death, she lives on. She brought the best to life as an employee of American Red Cross so we never forget her humanity. Her true life’s story is that she lives on to soothe us, even in death; to help us remember, if we are lucky to live; to tell the fundamental truth of disparities, racism, and their underlying conditions, if only our minds will open; to bring healing, if only we we let her story guide us, let her story extend our horizon, let her story be our escort through life.
Over 579,000 in the US have died from COVID. Let us not forget them. Let us instead remember their beauty as best as we can. Remember their being, who they were, what they did, how they touched lives, how the lived. They may all be gone, but their deaths are not in vain, not when the next pandemic is inevitable. I hope their deaths remain a reminder and dialogue and an opportunity to enrich our lives. Jazz drifts about quietly in my soul, as a reminder to listen, to learn, to never stop living, on this journey through life. The shape of my life makes sense because of the pandemic, because of people like Jazz. And for her, I still say to keep the dead of COVID in mind. They all have stories to tell, one that will remain, long after this pandemic ends.