This is the face of a professional spiritual care provider at the end of the day with hospice patients. My nose is sore from my mask. My skin itches. My eyebrows aren’t “done” and my make up was wiped off long ago. I need a haircut, a mani/pedi and maybe even a massage. I’m tired and sweaty and just a wee bit cranky.
On my way out to my car after my last patient, someone chirped “Thank you, shero!”
I held my tongue. I waved and kept walking. They meant well, I’m sure.
I took off my gear (mask, safety glasses) and sanitized them and my hands. I cleaned my clogs before I stored them in my trunk. I washed my face and neck. I turned the A/C in my car on full blast. I breathed deep and tried to decompress.
Here’s what I didn’t say:
I am not a shero. I’m a professional. I give my best work, even when a patient has a communicable disease like a novel coronavirus. A disease I could catch. A disease that has no cure, no vaccine, no dependable treatment.
I wear my PPE, grateful that I have it. I re-use masks because there aren’t enough. I bought my own scrubs and safety glasses because the nurses and home health aides get priority for equipment.
I sit with patients who can’t talk. I provide comfort to those who have no other clergy present. I listen to family members who grieve that they are not allowed to visit. Sometimes I play music, sometimes I read aloud. And sometimes, I sit in the quiet.
I’m not a shero. I do what I do because I’m called to do it in less than ideal circumstances.
I’m tired. I’m pissed off that a deadly disease is a political pawn for people who have all the healthcare they want, all the sick time they need, all the screening tests they need. I’m at a higher risk just because of my age. I do my work anyway.
I’m not a shero. I don’t want to be. But I will show up to work tomorrow and the next day… because I believe in the power of Presence and Love and Compassion… and a God who hears and listens.