I went to sleep on a Friday

Susan Estrich Syndicated Columnist
Tuesday, September 28, 2021
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And woke up on Sunday.

In a hospital bed. In the ICU. We all know those initials. Actually, I was lucky to be there. I didn’t have COVID-19. Just the regular ICU. Actually, I was waiting for a step-down unit. The only beds available were non-COVID ICU.

I was lucky. I am lucky. I live in California. The governor did not get recalled. We have the lowest COVID-19 case rate in the country. It is a long way from the French Laundry, the uber-expensive restaurant where the governor dined with his lobbyist buddies in the early days of the pandemic, when the rest of us were supposed to be avoiding such indulgences.

I just didn’t know how I got from Friday in my own bed to Sunday, staring at a crucifix at St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica just after Kol Nidre night.

It all made sense, except for the St. John’s part. How had I managed — at the very least — to miss the landing spot at Cedars-Sinai?

I’m not sure what holiday it was, or even what city, but I am sure I landed in a little piece of heaven.

No one is yet sure what went wrong. The wrong medicine? The wrong dosage? No explanation at all?

This much is clear: Compassion speaks in many native languages. With very few exceptions, the touch may feel different, the words may sound different, but in every way that it matters, the language is the same. Reassurance. Compassion. Comfort.

My hands are tied. Loosely. Calmly. It has been a long pandemic, even if mine hasn’t been spent dealing with COVID-19.

The eyes that look back at me are tired. Michael has been on for 12 hours, then Daniel, then Erin. No one signed up to be heroes, just professionals. Just.

I heard a story of a woman who tested negative when she came in to the emergency room.

Then she tested positive.

Last week.

Not to worry? Not me or you, anyway. But we’re not there every week. My children are grown. Vaccinated. I don’t ask about the young mothers and fathers. What’s there to say? The folks who come to work every day, cook our food, clean our rooms, yes, that and worse. That and messier. Day in, day out, on Monday, off Tuesday ...

It is better to never have another seizure again. It is better to never know than to know, again, and for sure.

It happened to a friend’s daughter. She thought a year was enough. It wasn’t. It might have been. Or it could have been even worse. There could have been someone else in the car as well.

Does anyone really need to Lyft without Lyft, or Uber without Uber?

We’ve managed to live without getting on planes once a week for how long? Zoom isn’t perfect, but who needs perfect? Some folks, it turns out, would have done very well without ...

Self-driving cars aren’t even around the corner. They’re at the corner. I can wait. I don’t even like to drive. I’m in no rush.

No. I’m grateful. And I can wait. Really, is it such a rush?

Drive safely. Stay well.

May you be inscribed in the Book of Life, to Michael and to Daniel and to Erin and to the team of heroes who come to work every day and risk their lives to save ours.

(To find out more about Susan Estrich and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators. com.)

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