This is what you can do.
tonight Fionnuala is your nurse.
You’ll hear her voice sing-song around the ward
lifting a wing at the shore of your darkness.
I heard that, in another life, she too journeyed
through a storm, a kind of curse, with the ocean
rising darkly around her, fierce with cold,
and no resting place, only the frozen
rocks that tore her feet, the light on her shoulders.
And no cure there but to wait it out.
If, while I’m gone, your fever comes down —
if the small, salt-laden shapes of her song
appear to you as a first glimmer of earth-light,
follow the sweet, hopeful voice of that landing.
She will keep you safe beneath her wing.
You want to do something positive now, now that your town is isolated and frightened and grieving.
Do something for the workers who keep our grocery store shelves stocked as best they can, all those risking their lives to keep us well fed.
Do something for the doctors and nurses and EMTs and first-responders who are — as usual — running towards the danger, rather than away from it.
Do something for the care-givers at your local nursing homes, the ones making $8 an hour to take care of those too old, or too weak, or too mentally feeble to take care of themselves.
I’ll never forget the people who cared for my mother during the final years of her life as she disappeared into dementia.
That’s a picture of my mom and Daniel, a refugee from Somalia, whose life was threatened there because he was a Christian minister.
Daniel is educated. He speaks English. And yet he showed no resentment at having to work in a dementia facility. On the contrary, he saw it as a ministry.
Nearing the end of my mother’s life, Shannon and I were visiting, and I began to cry. Daniel came to us, put his hands on our shoulders, and softly prayed with us.
It wasn’t a prayer for healing or a miracle. It was a prayer thanking God for her long life and the positive impact she had on everyone who knew her.
Daniel was her favorite. He, and all her caregivers, were so patient and tender. They treated her like she was their own mother.
I will always be grateful she was cared for with so much love.
So, get your most creative minds together on the phone and do something for these people, these amazing, courageous people. All of them.
Something that shows them how very grateful you are for their care in this time of unprecedented need.
Do it now.