Still Here, Still Singing

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It’s the Shabbos before my wedding. Friday night. I’m sitting on the porch next to a pair of shoes that aren’t allowed into the house, because those are my shoes I wear at work in the ER; my brothers and father are standing in the driveway praying, not in shul like they normally would be because all the synagogues have been shut down. And then we reach the portion of Lecha Dodi, welcoming the Shabbat in, and the whole block from all their respective porches bursts into simultaneous song together. And in the midst of this surrealness, I’m crying. Again.I cried a lot this week. Cried at work, as we were fast running out of personal protective equipment while dealing with the uncertainty of a rapidly progressive nationwide pandemic and the influx of patients looking to be tested for “the virus”.

Cried in the breakroom while on the phone with my mother when I heard that yes, my wedding would not be proceeding as planned. Cried as I heard more patients resulted positive to COVID-19, as more of the world was being shut down and placed in quarantine, as we ran out of isolation rooms in the ER, as there were no more gowns or eye protection to be found anywhere but I still needed to, and did, go examine and treat the little old lady with hypoxia, fever and cough, because if not me then whom else? Cried at home, in my car, in my bed, on the phone.You see, this is the Shabbos before my wedding. Which was supposed to be this upcoming Monday night. But it won’t be happening as planned- as opposed to the large party in the hall with all my friends and extended family there to celebrate with me on the occasion of my marriage to the most amazing special fiancé anyone could ask for, I’ll be having a small backyard wedding that was pushed up to Sunday afternoon with immediate family only, all standing at a 6 foot distance away. Definitely not what every girl dreams of. Every minute I’m hearing less and less people can come, and more and more people that I know who are sick or coming down with symptoms of fever and cough.

And in the midst of trying to pull together this last minute affair, I was also in contact with my coworkers, my fellow PAs and doctors, as we scrambled to try and order our personal n95 masks and face shields for ourselves after being informed that the hospital’s stock was close to being depleted. Scrambling to find out the results of our patients- which one ended up testing positive after they had no contact precautions properly put into place in the ER, but instead the pt had been left in the hallway with just an improperly placed face mask, as we have no isolation rooms left. Scrambling to find out about the status of our ventilators, about any new information on how to treat this novel coronavirus that is threatening to overwhelm the hospitals in NY, and how we can properly care for ourselves to so as not to expose and infect our loved ones. Oh, and in the middle of all of this my hair somehow turned black.

I can’t tell you how many times this week I just wanted to crawl into a ball in my closet and hide from the world. I just wanted to stay there and not come out. Not deal with my disrupted wedding, not deal with the worries of work, not deal with this pandemic that has invaded through every aspect of our lives, not deal with my hair. And so I cried.

And then came the light. The small gestures that people made, that pulled me out of my corner. I am truly blown away by the generosity and amount of chessed that I have been privy to this week- so many people who opened their houses and properties to host these impromptu wedding ceremonies for those who need, a florist who said she will provide me with a free bouquet and flowers, someone offering a free hair covering for any bride affected by these new regulations, my ER director who took time out of his busy week to answer my personal questions, a sister in law to be who wrote me the most beautiful email.

Even more so, I have some of the most incredible family and friends and fiance anyone could ask for, who truly all worked together to arrange a beautiful wedding, and unbelievingly supportive coworkers to ride out this storm with. I can’t thank any of you enough.

A bride has a special power for brachot- I give all of you a blessing that you should all stay healthy and happy, and receive the personal miracle you all need, whatever it may be.

It’s the Shabbos before my wedding.And we’re still here, and we’re still singing.

לכה דודי לקראת כלה

Come my beloved, Towards the Bride

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Emma is a new bride and is a physician assistant in an emergency room in NYC.