SPECIAL TO THE CATHOLIC HERALD
You had a profound conversion of heart after being away from the Church for a few years, what brought that about?
I grew up in the Church but when my first husband and I separated, I don’t know what it was but I just didn’t feel like I fit in. I didn’t feel any support. It was hard, so I began going to the Lutheran church when my kids were with their dad. I stayed there for a few years until I met my current husband and began the process of annulment. I started coming back to the Church and, as time went on, I felt something pulling me back in. I went to the kids’ school for programs and each one always began with prayer; I went to Mass with them, and saw what it was doing for them. I was there, faced with God at those events and he spoke to me there and drew me back with such grace. It was the beginning of my realizing what it means to be a gentle example of Christ’s love and how that makes such a huge difference in people’s lives.
What is it like to be someone who works in the medical field during this uncertain time?
I’m a medical nurse and volunteer paid on-call EMT in Port Washington. Last week, we started hearing more about the coronavirus but over the weekend, it hit hard and it got worse and as someone who is on the front lines, it’s been really scary. At the doctor’s office, we canceled every non-essential appointment and rescheduled them for at least 60 days out, but we don’t really know if we’ll be back then. I’ve never seen anything like this happen before and it’s been really hard to adjust to.
What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in the past few weeks?
At the fire department, we’ve always had a police officer that comes on our calls and goes in first to make sure it’s safe for us and that people don’t shoot at us or get violent. We respond to a lot of overdoses and when those people wake up, they’re not happy to see us so it’s nice to have a police presence. Since this pandemic, they’ve discontinued sending the police or fire department with us to lower the chance of exposure. It’s scary to be alone with just one or two other people. Anything can happen on those calls, and it’s very disconcerting not to have that protection. Also I’m in the back of the ambulance for 15 or 20 minutes with someone who might have the coronavirus. There’s also a shortage of goggles and masks and face shields, so we’re having to wash and reuse them, which would have been unheard of before.
How are you leaning on your faith during this often-frightening time?
It’s hard. Not being able to receive the Eucharist is devastating. Thankfully, my kids who go to Aquinas Academy are on Facebook Live constantly following along with their principal doing stations of the cross, and the rosary and so I am, too. It’s so calming because, even being stuck at home, I know it’s something we have at a set time every week, and during a time where we lack a lot of control, it feels good to know there’s something steady and solid we can hold on to in the Church even if we can’t be there physically.
How are you talking about this pandemic and quarantine to your children?
I try to reassure them and focus on what we can do to help prevent the spread of the virus. If people are older or sick, they could catch it from us and we don’t want that. We can’t change the situation at all; all we can do is trust in God and do what we know we should be doing to keep the vulnerable safe. I feel like it’s a good opportunity to show them how I rely on Christ during an uncertain time.
What drives you to keep going out on calls risking illness and death to serve others?
I feel like it’s in my blood, like I’m meant to do it, and that drives me to keep going. I’ve done this for almost 20 years and I feel like this is the ultimate test. Am I going to do the work God has put in front of me or not? I know that he brought me to this moment to ask how faithful I’m going to be to him and if I’m willing to truly lay down my life for another. I know I’m right where God wants me to be. I’m scared, of course. I’m scared of getting sick or bringing it home, and scared of the practicality of having my kids home all day and trying to school them, and the possibility that I’ll be required to go in and work and be away from them. It’s all so scary, but I trust in God.
What prayers have you been taking refuge in?
The St. Florian prayer for firefighters, constantly, and I just pray to God and ask him to give me the words to comfort people and the tools to help them when I can.
What is something the community can do to support first responders and those in the medical community in the coming weeks?
Pray. When you see an ambulance or fire truck, cross yourselves and pray. Sometimes people will mention that they do that to us, and it always brings such comfort knowing that in those moments of high intensity it’s likely that someone you’re passing is taking the time to ask God for his protection.