April 3, 2020
“Look for the helpers,” my hero would remind us. When bad things happen there are always heroes who help. Mr. Roger’s advice was supposedly for the children, but don’t we all need to be reminded: When bad things happen there are always heroes who help.
This time is no different. So I look for the heroes and I see them. Everywhere.
I see you patiently restocking the shelves at the store, keeping us nourished and reassured that there is enough to go around.
I see you going to work at the hospital, risking your own health so you can make others well.
I see you delivering food, packages and mail through deserted streets, keeping our economy moving.
I see you in the lab, measuring carefully, hoping your efforts will lead to a vaccine to inoculate the whole world.
I see you making art and sending it into the world via a screen, reminding us that truth and beauty alway matter.
I see you with four grocery lists in your hand, making certain your neighbors have what they need too.
I see you coding at your keyboard, keeping isolated people connected.
I see you alone in a hospital room, caring for your newborn baby all by yourself even after a cesarian because no visitors are allowed in the postpartum rooms.
I see you going to work while the rest of your family stays home because you are essential.
I see you making certain that your students have internet connection so they can learn how to subtract five from thirteen.
I see you putting the facts together so we understand why this time is different.
I see you pouring your blood into a clear plastic bag, to be sent far away and put into the body of a stranger.
I see you—in the mirror. The most strange hero of all. You stayed home today, put your life on hold, joined in this utterly unique agreement to save lives by doing less, by holding still, by sheltering in place.
There is no way we can possibly deny it—we are part of an interconnected web of life.
Is it possible that I saved someone’s life today simply by sitting on the couch? By washing my hands? By waving at my neighbor from a distance?
How are you feeling? I’m asked again and again.
I need a new word.
How am I feeling?
Acutely grateful for the blessings in my life; Scared and sad for the people who are losing so much; Filled with awe at the sacrifices we are collectively making to care for the common good. Grateful, afraid, heartbroken and awestruck.
Is there one word for so many feelings all at once? In German? In any human language? Maybe only in language of the human heart.