Exactly 1 year ago today – March 8, 2020, 7am at a Brooklyn emergency room – my first COVID-19 patient walked through the door.
Since then: one tragic year of countless patients treated, counseled, lost, and grieved, with even more lives upended and altered forever. We grappled with a year of the virus, and also a year of entitlement and willful ignorance exacerbating a pandemic of institutionalized injustice, iniquity, and violence in all its forms. March 2020-21 felt like signing up for a Shirley Jackson-esque lottery you didn’t want to participate in, or having us run naked into a hurricane and somehow expecting us to come out just fine (We didn’t).
Burying loved ones, colleagues and friends, we continued taking care of patients as if they were our very own loved ones, colleagues, and friends. Many times they actually were. And many times it felt that the loudest of voices still turned their backs on us, skeptical of our efforts or even the existence of an existential threat. Too much to fathom for a year. Who cares for the carer? Who heals the healers?
Prior to the pandemic I felt having traveled to 190+ countries while a full time med student turned doctor bestowed me countless lifetimes the past decade. That past decade now pales to the countless lifetimes I feel to have lived this past year alone. Died and reborn everytime we felt a lump in our throats or aching chests, we always woke up for the next shift more of a shell of the person we had gone to bed as. But until none of us are left, we always have and we still always will run into fires lifting up our fallen vulnerable as if it was our birthright to existence.
Therefore a year of perseverance against seemingly insurmountable odds will remind us of our humanity. For every faceless chimera that doubted us, hundreds more good samaritans validated us. So if there were anything to celebrate a catastrophic year of, it’d be those brethren, allies, and accomplices guaranteeing that our efforts – and not those who fearfully choose to be on the wrong side of history – will be remembered long after this year and long after we’re gone. Forging fiercely ahead together, here’s to better years to come.