SAN DIEGO — Borrowing at San Diego’s city libraries is down more than 50 percent during the COVID-19 pandemic as residents transitioned to a world dominated by curbside checkouts, electronic books and branches where browsing is not allowed.
Circulation plummeted even farther, about 90 percent, last April and May, but it bounced back to roughly half pre-pandemic levels when curbside checkouts began last summer and a dozen library branches partially reopened last fall.
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When I was young, I would hear people say one of the worst pains a human could experience was childbirth. I think of the hours of labor before my son was born and conclude that the pain of grief is worse.
When I was experiencing contractions, I could point to a part of my body and say, “Here. Take the pain away from here.” The anesthesiologist showed up on the 20th hour (I was trying to go without an epidural but didn’t make it).
The medicine went in, and the pain was gone, for the most part.
There is no place to point at with grief. It is an ache that drenches you completely, makes your limbs and your head heavy, too heavy to carry.
And the sting of grief does not end; it sleeps, gets quiet enough to forget about it from time to time, until it resurfaces with a song, an intersection, a park, a dream, or a corner of your house you forgot to look at with eyes from the past.