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Swan song

My mom is a health care worker.

This was the exact line I used to start my tweet the other day as I detailed what went through my video call with my mother. I’ve been silent lately, just praying she would come out stronger after she fulfills her duty. But this time, I decided to share this story to give people an idea of what it’s like nowadays when your mother is working in the health care industry.

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My mom has had to endure a 14-day shifting schedule in the hospital she works in. Eight days in, she’s already experiencing a bad sore throat and has an almost unrecognizable voice. She also complains of headaches and back pains. Granted, she is a middle-aged woman and back pain has always been part of her daily life as a working mother. But her sore throat alarmed us. Sadly, she could not be checked because her symptoms aren’t enough to qualify for COVID-19 testing.

In the latest statistics, about half of COVID-19 deaths in the country are casualties at the frontlines of the battle against the disease — doctors never backing down even with the uncertainty brought about by the adversary. From the beginning of the enhanced community quarantine, never did we hear these heroes complain about the dangers and chaos. They would rather perform their duty under the professional oath they’ve taken.

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But the first days were only a prelude. Slowly, we started losing doctors. Within the first two weeks of this quarantine period, it seems like each day we heard about the passing of a doctor or someone in the health care industry. A lot of us were heartbroken—and will continue to be if we fail to address the problem of the lack of protective equipment for our frontliners.

As we applaud the sacrifices and dedication of our health care workers especially at this difficult time, I am reminded of the legend about a beautiful swan who sang until her last breath, as narrated by English composer Orlando Gibbons:

The silver Swan, who living had no Note, when Death approached, unlocked her silent throat.

Leaning her breast against the reedy shore,

thus sang her first and last, and sang no more:

‘Farewell, all joys! O Death, come close mine eyes!

More Geese than Swans now live, more Fools than Wise.’

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These frontliners whom we tend to take for granted have now grown on us with our need to survive the COVID-19 threat. They are giving their all to keep us safe and protected—some even working until their last breath to fulfill their duty.

So let us take this moment to listen, empathize, act, and pray for them. Empower these people who are protecting us with their blood, sweat, and tears, and fighting with all their might against the deadly virus.

This is to our health care professionals—our doctors, nurses, medical staff, dietitians, social workers, etc. And this is an eye-opener for all of us who say we love our country and its people dearly. Before this battle is over, many more of our frontliners will have to sing their swan song and sacrifice themselves for our sake. But some of us may be too preoccupied to even notice the heroic final act these unsung heroes are offering their countrymen.

For my mom and the rest of the health care professionals who are battling this disease, I can only pray that they stay healthy, and that they also get tested before they are sent home to their loved ones. Mass testing for our frontliners should be a must. After all, these people are risking everything to serve with honor, compassion, and extraordinary commitment.

My phone just buzzed; it was my mom. Goodnight, anak, she said. I read her message, eyes almost welling up with tears, and wondered how many other frontliners out there are able to bid their families “good night” before they sleep again at the barricades.

* * *

Marijoe Serrano, 25, is a a copywriter.

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TAGS: frontliners, health workers, Marijoe Serrano, Young Blood
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