Sometimes it takes a catastrophe to remind us of our humanity. Sometimes we get caught up in the mechanics of living that an act of Nature has to descend upon us in one fell swoop to bring us back to reality.
I had planned to go to bed fairly early tonight. I truly did but just before turning off my computer I saw a picture that I hope will one day win a Pulitzer Prize: it depicted a group of nurses from New York University Hospital transferring critically ill neonates to a safer harbor at nearby hospitals. Their backup generator was damaged by a power plant explosion a few blocks away.
Oh, do I know those little babies so well. Once upon a time, I delivered many of them. Those tiny souls who are born too soon, or with unthinkable complications that make their lives hang on the hopes and prayers of their terrified parents. I know the dedicated NICU staff of physicians and nurses who bring these babies back from the brink of death; these unsung and unrecognized heroes who perform quiet miracles in the midst of our healthcare chaos.
These nurses insert IVs in the tiniest of veins, place feeding tubes down little throats, monitor vital signs and the complex machines that breathe for these little angels until they are strong enough to breathe for themselves. Can you imagine what it must have been for these nurses and doctors when the life-saving machines suddenly stopped working? One by one, each of the 20 babies were carefully and methodically transferred out of NYU hospital to other receiving hospitals with a nurse manually breathing air into their tiny lungs. All twenty infants were successfully transferred and appear to be okay.
The night of the storm is now gone and the flood water will eventually recede. But may the memory of the courageousness we witnessed, never, ever flee.