The pillowcase on the doorknob

 In Memoir

The pillowcase hangs on the doorknob. They are due in from work and each of them will put their clothes in the pillowcase, have a shower and put their clothes on a hot wash carefully  touching only the outside of the pillowcase.

On the way in they will have dipped their shoes in a disinfectant mix outside the door. Door handles will have been cleaned with disinfectant wipes.

They will come in and eat supper and I will say “how was it today? “, they will say “busy enough“, and we will not speak any more of the elephant in the room. This is not the time for processing, this is the time when you work on automatic pilot, when you go in and work to the best of your ability, like you always did. But there is nothing ordinary about going to work these days.

My 27-year-old son goes in and dons the personal protective gear or PPE as it is called as he treats the Covid 19 patients in the Intensive Care Unit.

Some of them will be over 70, some will be much younger, some will have underlying conditions and some will not.

Underlying conditions covers a multitude. “Who doesn’t have high blood pressure these days?”, I ask myself.

I am one of those people with an underlying condition and so I lay low. I know they worry about bringing home the dreaded virus to me.

His Dad will work in another general hospital where protective clothing is not worn, he is so at risk I think as I try not to worry.

He too works diligently and conscientiously as he always does. Patient care is still the upmost priority these days. I think of my days working as a healthcare professional when the sudden cardiac arrest of a patient would leave you emotionally and physically exhausted.

Who could ever have seen what was ahead of us? It is just as well we did not see what was coming. Many’s the time recently I have thought about the expression “2020 vision” and thought how meaningful it is in these strange times.

So, every day, people all over the world go to work and do their best to care for the COVID-19 patients and all the other patients hoping that this horrific and traumatic time will soon be a distant memory.

But when these dark days have passed there will be lots of bereaved families, as well as healthcare workers, carers and frontline staff to be cared for. Never was the saying  “who will care for the carer?” more apt.

In the meantime, I know that our family is only one of thousands who continue to hang the pillowcase on the doorknob every day as we pray that all our loved ones will stay safe.

Bernie H.


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