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  • Writer's pictureGenta Guitron

A Note of Gratitude

Three days ago, CNN reported on the suicide of Dr. Lorna M. Breen. Dr. Breen was an ER doctor in New York City. She gave her time, energy, and ultimately her life to protect and care for those most severely impacted by COVID-19. Her daily sacrifice and loss once again reiterated the vital importance of following the WHO and CDC instructions to stay home.

I understand the anxiety and weariness that comes attached to those instructions. I carry around a fist-sized knot in my chest over concerns about income and medical care. The constant vigilance over face masks, gloves, and fear of infected surfaces is exhausting at times, and wow, do I miss the simple pleasure of sitting in a coffee house or a movie theater. It’s healthy (no pun intended) that we all want to get back to “normal,” but in our urgency, we can’t forget the cost our frontline heroes will pay.

Our medical heroes, like Dr. Breen, wage a relentless war against time and resources. They’ve taken on the emotional burden of standing in for thousands of loved ones who can’t be with their family members in the final agonizing moments of their lives, and they’ve braved emergency rooms and intensive care unit foxholes for months even has co-workers and their own family members become sick or die. These extraordinary men and women deserve our gratitude. They deserve to know that they’re not in this fight alone.

Our healthcare workers are not the only heroes who deserve our praise and support. The world is filled with silent heroes who tirelessly wade through unglamorous, dangerous, and at times, tedious jobs to make our lives better.

When I went to the store this week, I observed a young man scrubbing an endless row of shopping carts. (I couldn’t help but think about Sisyphus.) I stopped on my way out and thanked him for “helping to keep us safe.” His eyes lit up, and he scrubbed a little harder. He made me realize how important it is to take every opportunity I can to say, “thank you.”

With that in mind, I want to take a moment to acknowledge and thank some of those courageous individuals who surround us each day.

“Thank You” - Janitorial Employees!

We know you’ve always kept our offices, schools, and malls clean. We know you’re on the frontline in hospitals cleaning up bio-waste and hazardous discarded PPE. We know you risk your safety to keep strangers safe and healthy. You’re a hero, and we see you!

“Thank You” - Sanitation, Waste Treatment, Water Bureau, Electric Co. Employees!

This diligent army of men and women keep the streets clean, the pipes flowing, the lights on, and our water safe to drink. They function every day in a world of hazards. They are the definition of essential. If you work in one of these fields—you’re a hero! We see you!

“Thank you” - Supply Chain and Service Industry Employees!

Our farmers, factory workers, truck drivers, postal workers, grocery store clerks, stockroom employees, food service employees, and gas station attendants (to name a few), deserve appreciation from all of us who benefit from their willingness to show up for work. Their exposure to the public makes them and their families especially vulnerable, but they haven’t stopped creating products, filling orders, stocking shelves, delivering shipments, and disinfecting surfaces to meet the needs of millions of people. Wherever you are today, if you work in any of these types of roles, you’re not invisible, or expendable—you’re a hero! We see you!

And, finally—”thank you”!

Every day that you’ve stayed home, you’ve not only kept your family safe, but you’ve protected my loved ones as well. I can’t thank you enough for your self-sacrifice and compassion. For every stir-crazy moment that you overcome, you’re saving someone’s whole world. When you leave the house in homemade masks and respect distancing guidelines, you’re taking part in changing someone else’s life for the better. You’re showing appreciation for our frontline and essential neighbors. You’re a hero! We see you, too!

Before COVID-19, I enjoyed making plans with friends, volunteering, hugging the people I love, road trips, and museums. It will probably be a while before I’m able to do those things again. For now, in honor of Dr. Breen, and millions like her, I’m looking forward to saying, “thank you” by staying home until the time arrives when the CDC and WHO tell me that I’m no longer putting others at risk. I don’t know how long that will be, but I know that many of you will wait with me—thank you!


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