Shine a Light on International Nurses Day

Date Published: 12th May 2020

Today is International Nurses Day and this post is nothing more and nothing less than a sincere and heartfelt ‘thank you‘  to nurses everywhere who have been on the frontline for the fight against Coronavirus. We are asked to shine a light from our windows tonight, 12 May 2020, the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale. We do so  in recognition of the work of nurses during this particularly difficult period, recognising their sacrifice, and knowing the impact on their own physical and mental health both now and in days to come.

The thing that is affecting me the most is when patients are dying, and relatives are not allowed in to say goodbye. Having to hold the phone up to a patient so their family can say goodbye is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do

– Helen, age 21, nursing in Scotland.

Two weeks ago, Alexander McCall Smith wrote a poem, ‘Those Who Care‘. He wrote it for nurses and carers, for doctors and first responders, for all working in the medical profession – in hospitals, care homes and GP surgeries. We share it here with our thanks to the heroes who are all around us.

Those Who Care
None of us remembers that first meeting –
Tumbling out into a very different world,
Into your receiving hands;
Blinking at the light, we breathed
The strangeness of oxygen
Saw the unfamiliar walls
Of the delivery room,
And the first ceiling we had ever
Looked at and wondered what it was.

That was the first thing
You did for us: welcomed us,
Ushered us into infancy
And childhood, and the years beyond.
We never thanked you
But do so now, rather late,
But with all the feeling
Of the long overdue
Expression of gratitude,
The tardy repayment
Of an ancient debt.

Since then, from time to time,
You have picked us up,
Dusted us down, bandaged
The occasional consequence
Of our failure to look
Where we’re going
Or to behave quite as we might;
Tolerant, like all good
Members of your professions,
You said nothing, but did
What was necessary.
And sent us on our way,
Patched up and healed.

Now, quite suddenly, we call on you,
And the call is an urgent one,
You are there, of course, it never
Occurred to you that you would be
Anywhere else than at our side.
Hour after hour, day after day,
You are there, the support
Of those hands that first delivered us
Embracing us once again,
With the same love, the quiet
And gentle care; once again
We spell out our debt, our gratitude,
You say, “It’s what we do”
We nod and say, “We always knew.”

 – Alexander McCall Smith, April 2020