"The Hollow Men," one of T.S. Eliot's poems, ends with the famous lines, "This is the way the world ends / Not with a bang but a whimper." They're unforgettable words, and he wrote them before the advent of the atomic bomb. He was also writing before the advent of the coronavirus. (The Spanish Flu, though, had happened relatively recently.) I certainly did not expect in August 2016 to be spending my last semester as a college undergrad living through a health crisis apocalypse, but, c'est la vie.
As anyone involved with Fordham knows, the University basically shut itself down this past Monday as a result of health concerns. Today marked the beginning of online classes, which will be continuing at least until the end of this month. This also means that the Global Outreach project I was going to participate in during this coming week has been canceled (a big thank-you to everyone who donated). I'm still on campus until this Saturday, but lots of other students are gone, and everything is semi-shutdown. It reminds me a bit of my freshman year, when I stayed on campus during Easter break (to sing with the choir at Mass) and after finals (to sing with the choir at Commencement), but being on campus almost alone was to be expected in those cases. The current phenomenon, on the other hand, was not something anyone was planning for. It reminds me of this past June when I was in Buenos Aires and there was a freak power outage. It was a cloudy, rainy day and it felt like the world had stopped except for the sound of the rain.
I have no idea what the rest of my final semester at Fordham will look like; this, then, is a good reminder that we should never take anything for granted. I'm very grateful that I got to go to Argentina (and Uruguay) last year, before all of this. I'm certain that I'll never forget this dramatic end to my senior year, and I suppose no one in my class will, either.