All of us will come out of the COVID-19 pandemic with beaucoup stories of various and sundry subjects and equally varying quality. Some will be funny, some tragic, some inspirational and some profound. All stories are welcome – after all, variety is the stuff life is made of.
I’ve heard from nurses working at ground zero, New York City, nurses in areas unaffected, nurses who have been furloughed and I personally know nurses who have lost family members to COVID-19. Every story is different and many have brought me to the brink of tears.
That being said, I’m all in for funny and frivolous as I’ve never left my New Orleans upbringing far behind. During the pandemic I painted Tom’s toenails after he lost a bet in a virtual game with my 11-year-old niece. Tom and I are still laughing over this one and any time he sees me with nail polish in my hand he disappears in a flash. We’ve had other competitions with our niece involving ice bucket challenges (first time she’s ever wanted to lose a game), makeup and free-style rapping. I will treasure the good memories we’re creating for life.
My twin brother, Vince, who is a, shall we say “colorful,” raconteur, has used this time to hone his storytelling abilities to a fine point. I’ve often laughed at stories I’ve heard many times before and have said “Cool story, tell it again bro!” Vince’s reply: “If you liked it last time it’ll be even better this time” and that was true – especially when he’d act it out around the dinner table (super-embarrassing in restaurants). Anytime I need a laugh I call Vince and wind him up. It never gets old. Not only is he telling stories, we’re also sharing a story of lifting each other up during these frightening times. And, since he was bristling like a rabid porcupine during the lock-down, it gave him some much-needed relief.
We’ve all felt the loss of not being able to hug and kiss family and friends. We have mothers, grandmothers, children, siblings, old friends, new friends and neighbors. I’m inspired by the stories of families and friends who creatively celebrated drive-by baby showers, virtual birthday parties and each other.
We’ve all been inconvenienced by #socialdistancing. Some of us have suffered nothing more than a shortage of toilet paper or empty grocery shelves while others have suffered 13-hour shifts on the frontlines. I have friends struggling to save their businesses from collapse and friends complaining about the tedium of working from home while their companies are figuring out a reopening plan.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not pontificating from an ivory tower here, I’m guilty of complaining too – especially when Tom beats me to cleaning the toilets (Girl’s gotta pass her day doing more than consulting). But when I find myself starting down the path of whinging and complaining, as the Brits say, I’ll stop and remember that I have my health and I’ll express gratitude for those of you out there on the frontlines preserving lives and those of you who are managing to hold your families together (Thank goodness it’s June and you no longer have to help with trigonometry homework).
When the COVID-19 pandemic is over we’ll have stories to tell. I hope the story is bigger than a new recipe (like the fantastic pasta Bolognese recipe which I’m enjoying) or what we found in the bottom drawer of the closet we were cleaning (like the letters from my now 40-year-old nephew written when he was a teenager which I’ll cherish for life). I want to tell and hear stories of how we have learned what’s truly important, of how we became more accepting of others’ viewpoints, of how love and giving led the way in the choices we made and the actions we took. I also want to hear how you continued to build the legal nurse consulting business you’ve worked so hard to create.
For the nurses who are and have been on the frontlines and the stories you’re writing, thank you for your selflessness and all you’re doing to save your fellow Americans.
Let me close with the words from an old Tom Petty song:
Is there something better we’d be doing if we could
And oh the stories we could tell
And if this all blows up and goes to hell
I can still see us sittin’ on the bed in some motel
Listenin’ to the stories we could tell
I can’t wait to hear your story.
Be safe and stay healthy,
Vickie L. Milazzo, RN, MSN, JD
P.S. Comment and share the story you’re writing during the COVID-19 pandemic.