Part 3

Heroes

Tough, you think you've got the stuff

May 30, 2020

This is Part 3 of 3, the closing chapter in the "Heroes" series, and features a song from U2's album, "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb." It kind of feels like the whole world is waiting on the dismantling of a bomb right now.

Over the past few weeks, I've seen people complaining about the COVID-19 guidelines that are being recommended and enforced by our governments. Some people, who otherwise don't have any severe problems or health issues to contend with, are feeling that social distancing is a nuisance, that their so-called "liberties" are being infringed upon, that they have been unfairly confined to the comfort of their own homes (even though they can leave if they want to), are bored and don't know what to do with all this free time on their hands, and feel that being stuck at home with their spouse and family is akin to some sort of prison sentence. I realize that it's not necessarily easy or always pleasant to be stuck at home with the same people every day. Due to my health, I spend most of my days at home. So for me, and millions of others who suffer from chronic illnesses that keep them housebound, not much has changed. But the added stress associated with this pandemic is undoubtedly affecting all of us, especially psychologically, and I have no problem admitting that it has taken its toll on me. But it's important to remember that so many others have it much harder than we do, and my life is already very hard, I can tell you, so for me to say that, speaks volumes I believe.

Photo courtesy of Time magazine: https://time.com/paramedic-coronavirus-diary/

All of my days are spent coping with so many dreadful symptoms that it's hard to stay optimistic about anything. But, like most things, it all boils down to perspective, and that is the purpose of this chapter. I'm hoping this story will change attitudes a little bit, and maybe help people have an easier time getting through the days, weeks, and months to come.

Here in Québec, some people came up with a clever slogan to help us all cope with the COVID-19 situation. In French, it's: "Ça va bien aller" which translates to, "Things will be just fine". The image of a rainbow has been associated with the slogan/movement, which is a lovely idea I think. People have rainbows posted in the windows of their homes and cars, painted in their gardens, posted on their Facebook pages, etc. It's supposed to keep us inspired, helping us to keep the faith that we'll eventually get through this. I guess it does help in some small way.

Photo courtesy CBC.CA: Gabriella Cucinelli, an early childhood educator in Quebec City

But it's this blog post, written in French and titled "Non, ça ne va pas bien aller" that was recently published in the HUFFINGTON POST (Québec edition) that really caught my eye that I want to share with you. The title translates to:

"No, things aren't going to be just fine."

NOTE: From what I was able to extrapolate from the comments section, although the article appears to have been written from the perspective of a nurse working the front lines, the author is a blogger who has crafted this piece as if a real nurse had written it. I'm assuming that she has taken what she has heard or read from nurses and doctors working on the front lines. I know I have heard many similar stories from actual nurses and doctors I've seen interviewed.

Photo courtesy of Time magazine: https://time.com/paramedic-coronavirus-diary/

I have taken the liberty of translating the article into English for my audience. Here it is:

"Miss Rebelle: my diary during a pandemic"

"It will be okay ..."

No, it's not going to be okay. It's not okay when you're crying in your car before you start your shift, and you feel sick, just thinking about eating your sandwich. It's also not okay when you have to undress in your car shelter before entering your home, and you'd prefer to go live at the local hotel because you don't want to risk infecting your family.

It's not going well.

It's not going well when you find yourself unable to eat due to mounting stress, you're hardly sleeping, and when you do sleep, you're having nightmares. You know It's not going well when you realize that you put your hands to your face, that you rubbed your eyes, and you find yourself feeling stupid for not having thought about it. It's not going well when you refrain from peeing in a bathroom shared by others, it's not going well when you are worried about taking the milk from the fridge because you know that others drank some before you, and others will drink some after you.

No, it's not going well.

It's not going well when you're called an angel, and yet you know you aren't one. I'm not a hero, because if I had the choice, I wouldn't be there.

It's not going well when you see your colleagues almost wasting away right before your eyes, at times collapsing from fatigue and anxiety. Things aren't going well when we try to make you believe that you are safe, that the worst is behind you. Things aren't going well when management has decided to hide from you that your colleagues are infected to avoid the panic that could set in if you knew. It's not going well when your hands are all cracked from repeatedly washing them, and your sweater sleeves are all deformed from having stretched them over your hands to open doors, no, it's not going well.

"It's not going well when you avoid your parents for their safety, but you are overwhelmed with guilt because they feel abandoned."

It's not going well when you put your toothbrush on the top shelf every time you use it, and just after tucking yourself into bed, you get up again to check, because you're not sure if you put your toothbrush on the top shelf. It's not good when you leave your coat and your shoes outside in the cold, or when you want to go and live in the storage space below your stairs to avoid spreading the virus that you may have encountered that day. It's not good when you are forced to distance yourself from your children when all you want to do is give them a big hug, and it's not good when you avoid your parents for their safety, but you are overwhelmed with guilt because they feel abandoned.

It's not going well...

It's not good when you question everything that you are told at work, you are suspicious of anyone and anything, and are living in fear, but you find yourself smiling anyway. It's not going well when you feel the weight of the world on your shoulders, are angry about going to work, are in a hurry to finish your shift, and when you know that going home will not be much better. It's not going well, I tell you ...

It's not going well when you forget what you were doing because you are so tormented, when you don't comprehend what you've just read, and when you stop dead in your tracks in the middle of the living room wondering why you were there in the first place. It's not going well when you want to hide from your family because you're sniffing a bit, and you start taking inventory of everything you've touched in your day. It's not going well when you have to breathe through a mask all day long, and, dressed in a yellow hospital gown, you see yourself looking like a bottle of banana flavoured antibiotics. It's not going well when you're surrounded by new procedures every day, and all you want is to cover yourself up in a suit of armor.

"Help me keep my balance instead of pretending I'm not going to fall, tell me it's going to be hard instead of telling me it's not that bad and making me feel weak when I realize how hard it is."

Stop telling me it's going to be alright.

No, things will not go well!

It will not go well because, at night, before you fall asleep, you start taking inventory of everything that you could sell if you lost your job, and you worry about what could happen if the economy takes priority over public health. It's not going well when you think about how you would react if your kid got sick, and you were kept from being by his or her side.

It's not going well, and it's not going to go well. Please, tell me we're going to stand up together, as one, to try to get out of this mess; tell me the truth instead of telling me lies so that I can better protect myself. Help me keep my balance instead of pretending I'm not going to fall, tell me it's going to be hard instead of telling me it's not that bad and making me feel weak when I realize how hard it is. Tell me that you too broke down in your car as you reached for your keys and employee card.

If you told me that it was not going well instead of telling me that it was going to be okay, I would stop thinking that I am being taken for a child in search of rainbows that aren't there.

Written by Educator and Author Anick Claveau

If this pandemic has taught us anything, it's that we all need to come together, perhaps like never before in history, to survive. I'll leave you with the LIVE version of U2's brilliant and heart-wrenching ballad, "Sometimes You Can't Make it On Your Own." Although Bono wrote this song about the strained relationship he had with his father, I felt that the title alone was enough to associate it with this story.

- Patrick Franc

a.k.a.: Your Friendly Neighbourhood Bionic Man

Did you know?

Bono, speaking about this father: "His whole thing was, Don't dream - to dream is to be disappointed. That was really what I think was his advice to me. He didn't speak it in those words, but that's what he meant, and of course that's really a recipe for megalomania isn't it? I mean I was only ever interested in big ideas, and not so much dreaming but putting dreams into action, doing the things that you have in your head has become an important thing for me. The song was dedicated to him and it's a portrait of him - he was a great singer, a tenor, a working class Dublin guy who listened to the opera and conducted the stereo with my mother's knitting needles. He just loved Opera, so in the song, I hit one of those big tenor notes that he would have loved so much. I think he would have loved it, I hope so."

- Courtesy SongFacts.com

Sometimes You Can't Make it On Your Own – U2

Tough, you think you've got the stuff
You're telling me and anyone
You're hard enough

You don't have to put up a fight
You don't have to always be right
Let me take some of the punches
For you tonight

Listen to me now
I need to let you know
You don't have to go it alone

And it's you when I look in the mirror
And it's you when I don't pick up the phone
Sometimes you can't make it on your own

We fight, all the time
You and I, that's alright
We're the same soul
I don't need, I don't need to hear you say
That if we weren't so alike
You'd like me a whole lot more

Listen to me now
I need to let you know
You don't have to go it alone

And it's you when I look in the mirror
And it's you when I don't pick up the phone
Sometimes you can't make it on your own

Say, say, say

I know that we don't talk
I'm sick of it all
Can you hear me when I
Sing, you're the reason I sing
You're the reason why the opera is in me

We're here now
I've still got to let you know
A house doesn't make a home
Don't leave me here alone

And it's you when I look in the mirror
And it's you that makes it hard to let go
Sometimes you can't make it on your own
Sometimes you can't make it
Best you can do is to fake it
Sometimes you can't make it on your own

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