Maripi Amigo Frias,
Daughter of the Heart of Mary.
The year 2020 was the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale, precursor and initiator of what today is Nursing. A year in which recognition was expected for this health sector, as silent and silenced as necessary and professional. I am sure that whoever thought of commemorating this year could not have imagined how nursing personnel would be put on everyone’s lips. Perhaps they did not visualize the news programs full of minutes dedicated to this group and its work, which became ‘visibly essential’ for world society from one day to the next. The images that arrived in the middle of December 2019 from China of those nurses sheathed in several layers of protection, sleeping on the floor of the same room where they attended patients, carrying out working days of uninterrupted hours and hours, only broken by the contagion of a disease that was still a great unknown to the whole world, but that they had already looked in the eyes and saw its virulence and mortality daily.
It did not take long for the world, just a few months later, to give account and reason to what those women were facing daily. Failing the exhaustiveness of the media. In Spain, we contemplated the closure of Italy, first of one of its provinces, and shortly after the total confinement of the country. We had not yet been splashed by this wave, which only left a couple of isolated cases in very distant points of our geography. A few days later, Spain joined the catastrophe.
What is behind this short perception and memory is well known and known by all and is available to anyone in extensive news that can be read or viewed on the Internet. I am not going to go there. Or rather, I am going to go right into it. Because I personally was one of those ‘honored’ in such a singular event. I have been a nurse for 11 years, by vocation (with all the implications that the term has), in the gap of caring for life in multiple services and hospitals in Spain. I was also one of those who applauded on the balconies at 8 p.m., and I still feel that shiver of emotion when I remember such support. I am also one of those whose neighbors left unloving messages for me to leave that common space that every day took me to work and in which, fortunately or unfortunately, I arrived with more fear than shame without being very clear whether or not I was carrying an invisible, lethal weapon. I also suffered being called heroes and villains, being loved and hated equally… All ambivalences, contrasts and, undoubtedly, a lot of dedication for others, no matter who he is, what he thinks of our profession if he considers me a hero or maybe he left me at some point a note is inviting me to leave my own home in favor of his safety.
I have not experienced all of these types of experiences myself, but I feel the pain of my colleagues who suffered these acts just to do their job. Nursing is perhaps a privileged field of caring for others, creating close ties that heal, comfort, encourage and so often accompany the pain of loss or loneliness. I have often heard the many disadvantages of our work shifts, the job insecurity suffered by our group, the difficulty of stability offered by the contracts for days or months to which we aspire on so many occasions. These are circumstances that are not told to you, but that comes (and this, unfortunately) with the package. All this would not make any sense without a noble goal such as that pursued by our profession: the integral care of the person. This leads us to be psychologists (without intrusion) of the difficulties and frustrations that come with illness and uncertainty; humorists and defenders of good humor to bring out a glimmer of light and joy amid pain and negativity; companions of daily and curious circumstances alike; confessors of venial sins and broader narrow-mindedness; mediators in complex family situations; confidants of experiences ‘behind closed doors….
If I add to all this my being a consecrated secular, which sustains me and drives me, I get a precious mixture of living from the heart and heart. By vocation, the heart of a mother in the style of the Mother; by occupation, the mother of so many sick people who, even though they are several decades older than I am, entrust themselves to my care, to my hands and my word with total detachment. A combination that makes of the dedication to care the most sacred art in its most complex versions: on the verge of contagion, losing sleep and life in each work shift, bringing each patient and their circumstances before God without them knowing anything, as the hidden weapon that propitiates through me so many miracles as I prove daily. Those who know me well will say that I have always been a shy person, somewhat introverted, with difficulty maintaining a conversation and bringing out of me what touches my heart. But they will also say that my vocation as a daughter of the Heart of Mary transformed my being in such a way that now I live with my heart in my skin, with conversation for a while, with the ability (and I can recognize this because it is a gift and not merit) to turn a drama into a moment of light, to bring a smile out of fear and a caress out of mistrust.
Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic (don’t be afraid, there is also room for gratitude), I have learned to value my profession and give it the merit that I had not found until now. Not because we feel necessary for society, but because we are essential for many or all of us to live this life to the fullest in a healthy, integral, fraternal, co-responsible, and tremendously shared way.
No PID hid our tiredness, our joy, or our desire to fight to give life and care for life. No virus inoculated us with so much fear that we did not confront it with garbage bags in favor of those who suffered its consequences. It is not a burst of pride that drives me but of gratitude for being an instrument of care, of closeness, of effort for the good of others. It is not exclusive to the nursing sector. I would be untruthful if I were to claim this privilege. But it is our hallmark of healthcare as a whole, which fights for the welfare of all, which gives itself in the difficulty and the risk of suffering from the very thing you are trying to fight.
Nursing has been at the heart of healthcare. Imagine for someone who knows that God dreams your heart of Mother what this can mean… Gratitude, extreme gratitude, and desire to be able to bring to life what is proposed in the third Sustainable Development Goal of the 2030 Agenda: “Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being at all ages is essential for sustainable development.” And fraternal, and human, and global.
Maripi Amigo Frias,
Daughter of the Heart of Mary.