Antonio is a grandfather of 69 years old. For 40 years, he has worked as an internist. Just a few days ago, his plans for a quiet retirement suddenly changed. Out of his own free will, Antonio decided to return to work as a doctor in order to help patients suffering from COVID-19.
“I stopped being a grandfather in order to help Italy during these critical times! After 40 years of work, I am certain that this is the most beautiful job on the planet, and I am grateful to the Heavens for the great privilege I have to be able to help my fellow human beings,” Antonio professed.
Sara’s story, and the way she reacted to the crisis, moved me to tears. Sara is a recent medical graduate. She had her graduation ceremony in very unusual circumstances: on the tenth day of quarantine in Italy, via a video conference on Skype. She had to celebrate her success alone, away from home, away from her parents, friends, and relatives, without any gifts, flowers, or candy.
“I want to tell you a story,” says Sara. “I’ve been living in this apartment for three years, with the same neighbours, in the same building. During this quarantine, I have met my neighbours on the balcony. We drink tea together every morning and we enjoy the fact that we can empathise with each other. They are the only ones I have seen without the filter set by a screen. This afternoon they gave me a present on a broomstick. Inside the beautifully wrapped package there was a graduation gown which they had made for me. I never thought I would have my own gown. Their gesture has made this day one of the most important and beautiful days of my life. I know that this period will pass, but what I wish for the most is for this sweet breeze of human empathy, at such a sensitive time for all humanity, to stay with all of us.”
Reading Sara’s short testimony, I thought of all the beautiful moments I spent in Italy, close to those wonderful people, who are among the most affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Thanks to the 18 years I spent in Italy, the connection I share with the Italian people is very strong. After the first cases of COVID-19 started to take over Italy, I began to get in touch with my colleagues, professors, acquaintances, the people who have influenced my life in different ways. I hope our conversations have nourished their souls as much as they have nourished mine.
Since time immemorial, crisis has united people. Gestures which we often take for granted become important again. And so, now more than ever, it is the time to offer love and support to the vulnerable.
Something said at the right time—especially in times like these—can be life-saving to someone.
Let’s show those around us our willingness to help. Let’s give them enough reason to believe that God is present in all of our lives.
After all, Christianity is about loving God by showing love to those around us. It’s a good time to forgive those who have wronged us, and to offer a helping hand to those in need.
I truly believe that now, when everything around us has stopped, this is the best time to look into our souls, forgive ourselves, and not hold grudges against ourselves for things that happened in the past.
I also think that all of us would like to look back and say that we did whatever was in our power to make the world a better place. If, up until now, all we have felt is that we are mere spectators, now we have the chance to play our part. Let’s not waste it!
And, lastly, I wish for us to be people who are grateful. Even in times of crisis, let us be those people who not only see the glass as half full, but who are grateful for the fact that they have a glass of water to drink from in the first place. I think that gratitude is one of the most powerful forces that the Creator has sown in us. It is the force that helps us have, and share, good morale and peace of mind.
Almost 80 years ago a girl and her family had to live in hiding for two-and-a-half years. She didn’t go out, not even once. Seasons passed and they couldn’t see the change outside. Their only gateway to the outside world was a tiny roof window that the girl would look up through, gazing at the sky, and imagining life after the ordeal. That young girl was Anne Frank, and the pandemic was Nazism. I thought of her today as I looked out of the window and wished I could go out.
Bianca Ionescu is a journalism undergraduate.