Dear New Jersey COVID-19 patients in the care of MICP #3490,
You are in good hands. You are in the hands that have held mine during times of joy and during times of grief. You are in the hands that held my babies as they took their first breath. You are in the hands of someone who mills woodwork in his free time.
I want you to know you are in good hands.
You are in the hands of my husband, who is a New Jersey critical care, advanced life support paramedic during the worst pandemic our country has seen since the Spanish Flu in 1918.
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There’s something to be said about the people on the front line during these times.
Resilient? Yes. Selfless? Also yes. Terrified? You better believe it.
For me, I’ve always considered first responders the “first” line—the people who bear the burden before the front. They are arriving on scene (wherever that might be, their workspace exists where their patient happens to be), they’re being exposed without the protection of a controlled, hospital environment. They are the first line of contact, they are the first line of exposure. My husband cares for many of you during his 12-hour shifts each week.
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I haven’t kissed my husband in four weeks. We hug with our faces out to the sides and I watch, from across the room as he leaves for the night, N95 mask in hand. Our eyes meet as he walks out the door and we smile. Ruefully.
When he’s gone, I release a sigh, praying his personal protective equipment is enough.
Earlier this evening, I walked into our 7-year-old daughter’s room and she was in tears. “What’s wrong?” I ask, and she admits she misses Daddy. As I’ve done often in the past seven years, I explain to her we have to share Daddy with the sick and the injured, especially now. She asks why. I tell her Daddy is a wonderful human being and the world needs him sometimes more than we do, and right now is one of those times.
“Like Superman?” she asks, innocently wide-eyed, and my mind reels a montage of him in and out of hospitals, performing CPR in the back of an ambulance, arriving at a car accident just in time to save someone’s life, and I smile to myself, “Yeah, baby. Like Superman.”
Sharing him with you, and the world, is exactly what we are doing right now.
We know you need him more than we do—we are safe at home. We Zoom with family and friends. We play outside. We watch movies with popcorn. We write cards to leave in mailboxes. We share my husband and their daddy with you during your darkest hours, even when your own families cannot be there to hold your hand. He will though. He will hold your hand and through all of that personal protective gear, he’ll smile at you to let you know you are not alone.
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Sometimes, he doesn’t want to talk about his day. Sometimes, he can’t wait to talk about it. Sometimes, he’s silent. Sometimes, he’s enthusiastic. He is always tired.
To me, he is invincible.
A paramedic enters the medical field to save lives, but more often, he learns the emergency medical field is more about coping with loss than saving.
When my husband, or any paramedic you may have come in contact with, is holding your hand, he feels every fragment of what you feel. He knows you’re scared—he’s scared too. Squeeze his hand hard and know—you are a part of him now.
The wife of MICP #3490