Remembering NM’s COVID-19 victims » Albuquerque Journal

Jennifer Rautman provides black flags each day to recollect these New Mexicans who died of COVID-19. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

To assist youngsters perceive the idea of a really massive quantity, academics typically inform them to carry to high school bottle caps, twigs or different objects equal to that quantity, after which unfold them on the bottom to allow them to get a visible image of simply how huge and actual it’s.

The entrance yard of retired instructor Jennifer Rautman’s house within the 3700 block of Vermont NE, is visible and actual in that very same form of method.


Since early December, she and her daughter, Gretchen Rautman, have been planting small black flags within the yard – one for every COVID loss of life reported in New Mexico.

As of Thursday, there have been 3,658 black flags fluttering within the wind.

“I noticed an article in Time journal final November during which a girl in Texas had carried out one thing comparable, and he or she had this large space with a sea of pink flags,” Jennifer mentioned.

Jennifer Rautman stands within the entrance yard of her Northeast Heights house, considering the importance of the greater than 3,600 black flags she and her daughter, Gretchen, have pressed into the bottom. (Roberto E, Rosales/Journal)

“I’ve a gravel entrance yard with paths forming a larinth, and other people can, and sometimes do, stroll it. So we started to put the black flags alongside the perimeters of the larinth. It’s very sobering to stroll the larinth amongst all these black flags,” she mentioned.

When the 2 ladies determined to go forward with the challenge in early December, they shopped on-line and ordered 2,000 flags, deciding on the black as a result of it represents mourning. On the time, there have been about 1,300 COVID deaths in New Mexico. They quickly realized they didn’t have sufficient and ordered 3,000 extra.

“Luckily, now we have not needed to put all of them on the market, however daily we verify the information and discover out what the present day’s whole is after which we add flags,” Jennifer mentioned.

Neighbors “have universally been very supportive and really touched it,” she mentioned.

One neighbor mentioned a flag represented a brother, one other mentioned the flag was for a cousin. “One man mentioned the show was so highly effective that he introduced his 80- or 90-year-old mom to see it,” Jennifer mentioned. “Individuals strolling with their youngsters cease to clarify to them what it means.”

Neighbor Alan Duhon mentioned he was so moved “that I volunteered to assist plant a few of the flags and hold a banner.”

And there’s nothing ambiguous concerning the message on the banner, which says, “Remembering New Mexico COVID-19 Deaths.”

“Who hasn’t been affected COVID?” Duhon mentioned. “It has disrupted all people on the road so far as having the ability go about their regular routines and of their each day interactions with the opposite neighbors.”

Gretchen, who has a incapacity, mentioned she is energetic on-line with others in the neighborhood of individuals with disabilities, a inhabitants that has pre-existing well being situations. She instantly agreed to do the flag challenge along with her mom.

“I believed it was a great way to make the quantity actual, as a result of it’s a giant quantity,” Gretchen mentioned.

Whereas she and her mom talked about concluding their show on March 11, one 12 months after Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham declared a public well being emergency, they’re now entertaining the potential of persevering with longer.

“I would like individuals to understand that this isn’t some random or summary idea that’s being compelled on us to make issues uncomfortable,” Gretchen mentioned. “Every of these flags is an individual who was beloved and had a life and passions. And so they’re not right here any extra. They’re useless.”

And whereas that’s a really “tough and ugly actuality,” Gretchen mentioned, “we have to bear in mind these individuals and never get sucked into arguments, like whether or not or to not put on a masks.”

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