Sunlight

There is a light somewhere. It may not be much light but it beats the darkness.

Charles Bukowski

In December I wrote a post about humanity and it’s brokenness. I said that I really want to believe that humans are inherently good, but the current state of the affairs is making that incredibly difficult to do so. The world we live in right now is a confusing and fractured place. I feel like we are lost. We are lonely and lost and disconnected. We are disconnected from each other, from our values, from our humanness, from the very inherent goodness I so desperately want to believe in. Its as though the sun has been dimmed, and we are all walking around in a fog with our arms outstretched, looking for something to grasp onto. Something that we can stand for, something that can make us feel grounded, and at the end of the day those very things are disconnecting and polarizing us even more. Our news feeds are filled with headlines about hate crimes and racism; about crimes against women; with images of violent protests and war and famine and suffering and hate. We are destroying our planet and we are destroying our humanity, and it’s all very overwhelming.

I would describe myself as a contemplative person. I like to think deeply about things. I like to ponder. The problem is that all the pondering makes it easy to get lost in the heaviness, the fogginess, that is the world right now. I have to make a conscious effort to lift my head up out of the fog and seek out the good in the world. (Hence all the sunset chasing.) I have to remind myself to find the sunlight – because it is there. And that is what this post is about; a short, sweet story that happened at work, that reminded me that there is always sunlight.

During the mad rush of the second wave of COVID, a beautiful story played out at the field hospital. One day my colleague, Liz (who is the definition of sunlight) admitted a patient who I will call Mrs A. Liz asked her about her family, and Mrs A told her that she had been informed that her husband of 45 years had passed away the day before, also with COVID, but that she had a daughter at home who could be contacted as her next of kin. We were heartbroken; another family torn apart by this pandemic; another lifelong love story ended without a goodbye. Liz called Mrs A’s daughter to inform her that her mom was with us, and to make sure that she was aware of her father’s passing. She was not. In fact, Mrs A’s daughter ensured us that her father had definitely not passed away and that he had actually been admitted to the very same hospital the day before. We were shocked and excited! Both husband and wife, however, were critically ill. She was on face mask oxygen, and he was on high flow oxygen in high care (which was also an act of sunlight by a different colleague. It’s easy to give up, write “palliate” on a blue board and move on, but this colleague believed this man deserved more and she fought for him – but that’s another blog post.) Long story short, Liz was adamant that this couple be reunited and she made it happen, despite all the obstacles. She rallied the porters, connected Mrs A to a mobile oxygen cylinder and pushed her bed into high care so that she could hold her husband’s hand one last time. Sadly, they both passed away a week or so later, within 36 hours of each other, but they did so at peace and surrounded by love. Their daughter wrote to us after the funeral: “It is better this way. They were so spiritually connected, and they are in a better place together now.”

It’s stories like this that give me hope that we are not doomed. On the surface, Mr and Mrs A didn’t have a happy ending, because this is the real world and bad things do happen. People die, and pandemics happen. There will always be suffering, and war, and greedy politicians, and ignorant people. But there will also always be kindness, and love, and people like Liz. Mr and Mrs A had a real world ending, but it was drenched in sunlight because humans are inherently good, and there is glorious sunshine beyond all the fog.

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