Not so very long ago, when I was fit as a butcher’s dog, what seems like a time warp passing across the Milky Way when the seeds of our downfall were sown in a way that’s beyond comprehension, there grew a progenitor, an apocalyptic but as yet unknown force, more powerful than anything we knew, to which we could never yield, because we had no choice, like war, but without plans. The victims are dazed, half conscious, half alive, inflamed and drowning in black water, systems fractured, powered off including ordnance, a military defensive without armour, damage limitation for lost causes, no time to bury their dead the wives and mothers, sons and daughters husbands, fathers, family and friends left out in the cold. No touching of hands bereavement on hold, for some other time another world, some other parallel existence. As if in that other unreachable, longed for place of sanctuary and rest, Elysian Fields where angels dare with mercy’s offered by saints with greatest care, unprotected in spite of fallible humanity, disregarding concern for their own… This is what they came to do. Isn’t it true they save lives, these compassionate heroes these very normal, extraordinarily ordinary supernaturally humane people, who walk among us, the ordinary, extraordinarily lucky human beings. Do we truly deserve them? From time to time, we show appreciation for their dedication as they run between the cracks and the faults in our lives. But we rarely see behind their professional masks, the anxieties, the personal struggles, the humanity that exudes from every pore even when you look them straight in their eyes in the line of fire, they prepare a family for the inevitable, another ending too close to the last. Overwhelmed by new beginnings and more bad NEWS… The truth that is too sanitised for consumption in our comfy armchair homes, we only want to hear not this; not what we truly need to know. But how else will we comprehend an urgent need To cry. To lobby. To action. To shout from the hilltop To understand. To march and never give up lighting the fire and fighting the liar in the dock fighting for the right to life, the right to social justice not the right to exploit for greed, for enrichment for personal gain, or rebel against natural wisdom and science, or assert a semblance of civil rights. Civil Rights for whom? Whose pain and suffering will this alleviate? How much will those angels and saints endure? Facing an onslaught of mind-numbing ignorance, whilst facing their own demise? How long for those who mourn, to rise and grieve for the final tingling touch of a hand? For their spring, barely sprung their lives just begun, not yet able to understand what they are losing ... and the angels chose to care. A haunting echo of children singing, somewhere across the playground, somewhere across the universe, somehow you feel an unexpected swelling in the depths of your throat that caught you by surprise, unaware. How dare their sweetest innocence awaken this grief inside, a fear of Armageddon, after a daylong toll of death you were at your most vulnerable, you were least prepared least able to hold it all inside. Your defences were down. There is no denying this feeling, when all is said and done. From out of the mouths of children, who opened your eyes to coming home, to reconciliation, to finding your love came your most important gift of all … your own truth.
This piece of writing is based on a sort of interview style conversation with a friend, a Consultant in Respiratory Medicine, who has been at the front line of the Covid-19 pandemic since it started. I am very grateful to her that she participated willingly, at times almost as if she was glad of an opportunity to talk about what she has been through with someone outside of the medical establishment, outside of the claustrophobic bubble that has constricted her life for so long, but to which she has dedicated herself with unquestioning professionalism. One very remarkable and courageous woman.
©2021 John Anstie
All rights reserved