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The supermoon is too big to comprehend. So is the coronavirus.
Step outside and things become a little clearer. | Column
The April full moon, the closest and largest supermoon of the year, rises between a couple spending time together Tuesday at Flora Wylie Park in St. Petersburg.
The April full moon, the closest and largest supermoon of the year, rises between a couple spending time together Tuesday at Flora Wylie Park in St. Petersburg. [ MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE | Times ]
Published Apr. 8, 2020|Updated Apr. 8, 2020

The moon appeared 14 percent closer and 30 percent brighter Tuesday night. It was within 90 percent of perigee, which is… hold on as I Google… “the point in the orbit of the moon or a satellite at which it is nearest to the earth.”

Ok! That makes as much sense as the distance learning math problem thrust into my face recently, something about apples and the value of x.

There’s only one way to really understand a supermoon. So we took a Toys R Us telescope and some chairs outside.

Whoa. I don’t know what the moon was like 30 percent less bright, but the old hunka cheese was something to behold. It blushed, casting a purple halo over everything the night touched.

“Upsetting?” I asked my husband.

“A little,” he said.

That gutted feeling is the sheer impossibility of existence. And this mystifying act of nature happened during a mystifying moment in our world.

A kayaker and boaters near Bay Vista Park in St. Petersburg take in the celestial light show on Tuesday.
A kayaker and boaters near Bay Vista Park in St. Petersburg take in the celestial light show on Tuesday. [ BOYZELL HOSEY | Times ]

It’s too big to comprehend that 1.4 million people around the globe have been infected with the new coronavirus and that more than 82,000 have died. Think of roughly the population of Maine and the population of Largo, if it helps. How to visualize the 309 people who have died so far in Florida? A church service? A graduating class? A movie theater?

Even then the numbers are nebulous, marching toward a doomier data set.

Look at the moon. Think about who we lost.

Related: April’s pink supermoon over Tampa Bay

Hum a tune from John Prine, thankful but sad for the unwritten lyrics. Just give me one thing that I can hold on to. To believe in this living is just a hard way to go.

Mourn Franca Panettone of Hernando, who loved coffee and painting, got two cakes for her birthday and piled the rainbow ribbons on top of her head.

Remember Rosemarie Gabriele of Pasco, who always visited her husband in memory care, loved slot machines, the opera and her family. Who believed God would take care of her “on this earth or the next one.”

If we don’t hear their stories, the numbers and numbness win. We’ll stop demanding testing and supplies, stop helping local businesses, stop laughing and start getting angrier. We’ll forget why we’re staying home. We’ll lose the vigilance, grace and empathy that will get us through this.

Read their stories. And step outside to look at the moon tonight. It’s still pretty bright.

Related: Read more columns from Stephanie Hayes

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