Dear Nurses of the world,
Yesterday I was fortunate enough to have a friend of mine who is an emergency room nurse share a few minutes of her time to chat with me on Facebook messenger. The things I said to her, clearly made a difference, even if only a small one. So with that in mind I write this following letter to the people I like to refer to as, Earth’s Angels, the nurses.
I have great appreciation for all medical professionals. They are all indeed the front line in this war against the Coronavirus and even in the best of times people on who we critically depend on . Back when I was married in 1992, the woman I was married to spent 5 months in the hospital. The first 2 1/2 months of that time she was in a private room in Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. During that time in which I was able to sleep in her room, I learned something I believe to be true to this very day. There are many wonderful doctors out there and the work they do is often awe inspiring, but it is you, the nurses that determine the greatness of a medical institution more than anything else. You are indeed angels.
They say that you should write what you know. As someone who sits here with immense appreciation for the sacrifices made by you, our nurses, having had the benefit of having a mother who worked as a nurse during the worst of times, I will share something with you I hope will provide you with some added strength during this very difficult time.
It is human nature to look to history to provide a perspective that helps us understand and navigate not only the present, but the future as well. However, with every offering of past perspective we must also be aware of the different challenges presented by each situation. In 1943, my mother, then a 21 year old woman, was working and living in a hospital in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam. Although she dealt with a different threat and fear than the one facing all of you, had she been alive today, knowing her as I did, I am sure she would have been more than willing to share her perspective and support. This is not a competition. So many of life’s challenges and difficulties are different. I know from my conversations with my mother that she never tired physically from helping someone to who was ill. The mental exhaustion was a much greater challenge. During the time I am referring to in 1943, she cared for and comforted the sick, fully aware of the fact that on a regular basis Nazi thugs would raid the hospital and incrementally take patients away to be murdered. On August 13, 1943, as the last of the patients were removed by the Nazis in their final raid on the hospital, my mother’s first instinct was to go with them. I sit here able to write this letter to you today because frankly, on the insistence of the man who would turn out to be my father, that is not how things turned out. Had she gone with them, she too would likely have been murdered, and would never have been able to help anyone ever again.
As a child I remember at least 2 instances in which my mother cared for a terminally ill individual by going to their home and caring for them in their final days. She later became a Director of a Senior facility in the city of Arnhem in Holland. When she referred to the war and discussed all that she lost and her sadness during that time, it was always clear to me the strength she not only acquired, but was able to access from the help she gave her patients. Yes she saw terrible things, but the lessons she learned from that time were of enormous value to her for the rest of her life. But, as any mere mortal would, she needed those who would support her, love her, and give her purpose during the course of her life. When she passed away at the age of 95 she was a happy and fulfilled woman. She faced tragedies and difficulties most of us could never fathom, but she faced them and lived a good life.
So this is my message to all of you angels out there. No one knows what our worlds will look like when this crisis ends, but we all need to do our part. You are all already doing more than seems humanly possible and yes, from what the stories seem to already tell us, making an enormous difference. What I and people like me need to do is to offer you that support, encouragement, love, and mostly gratitude for being there when we all need you the most. I want you to know that the main reason I shared part of my mother’s story with you today is to help you realize that God willing you all stay healthy, the exhaustion, frustration and sadness you feel today, that you sometimes replace with numbness, will not endure. There will come a time when you will look back and know that what you did meant the world to us. To those who got sick, and to those who stayed healthy. And you once again will move on to live, love and enjoy your lives as you so deserve to do.
Lastly, I don’t think that the words of gratitude and encouragement I share with my friend yesterday make the difference in her abilities to move forward in her very difficult task, but I do know it helped a little. When I thanked my friend on a thread for all that he does as a nurse, I am not even sure he had the time to even read it, but I know if he does it can only help. All of us can only try to understand the challenges and difficulties facing those who are working so hard under these terrible conditions. Of course by now we should all know that we need to do our part in helping to not spread the virus. But what I encourage everyone to do is to take the time to give words of gratitude, support and encouragement to all of those in hospitals on the front line of what many are referring to as a war. Like anyone else going through trying times, the support they get will be critical in keeping them going. Take the time to offer that much needed help to those who are giving all of their time to help us.
So today I am thanking those who I refer to as Earth’s Angels, our nurses. Thank you for all that you do and may you be blessed with all the strength and health you need to get us through this and to a time when life can return to normal, and when you can enjoy the time you cherish with those you love and all that makes you happy in life.
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