No more birthdays.

No walk down the aisle with the daughter on her wedding day.

No witnessing a child’s high school or college graduation.

No welcoming the first grandchild.

Gone are the plans, the dreams, the what-ifs, the career milestones that were yet to come, the retirement plans.

There is no need to wade into the politics of the COVID-19 pandemic. Political it has been and political it remains.

Were there deaths that could have been prevented through the vaccines that were made available? Absolutely.

Were there deaths that occurred despite people getting vaccinated and even boosted? Yes.

The fast-spreading virus swept the nation, perhaps catching us far more off guard than it should have, considering our nation’s status as a health care world leader. There was plenty of speculation, trial and error. Scientists did what they do. Medical professionals did what they do. It’s a practice, not something that has been or ever truly will be perfected.

But the sad truth is that the United States has arrived at the 1 million mark. That’s 1 million deaths directly tied to COVID-19, or roughly one-fifth of the total population of South Carolina.

In the scheme of things, for a nation with more than 330 million people in it, that is a small number. Only, it’s more than a number.

It is 1 million human beings.

That’s fathers, mothers, grandfathers, grandmothers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, bosses, coworkers, friends, neighbors, fellow church members, church leaders ... the list goes on. And on. And on.

Deaths were inevitable, especially among those people who, because of their own bad lifestyle choices, their preexisting health problems or whatever else placed them at higher risk of contracting and dying from COVID-19, but 1 million deaths? Yes, we still believe that number could have been avoided.

We should mourn the loss of so many. We should sympathize and, in some cases, empathize with those who have lost people they loved and cared for, cared about.

If you are among those who lost a family member, a friend, a coworker, an acquaintance, take time to honor and remember them among the 1 million lives gone. So long as they are kept in our memories, they yet live.