Overwhelming Gratitude

My typical message at this time of year is simply a short list of gratitude and thanks.

Of course, this year isn’t typical.

So many people have done, are doing, and will continue to do beautifully selfless and human acts of generosity. At the beginning, I didn’t realize that a pandemic is like a war. There are some who are in the heat of the battle and those of us “at home” who support them. Each group has different hardships and makes different sacrifices. How do I thank you all? Words are all I have here, but they are not enough.

How do I thank…

Students who have, with such grace, accepted that their years of education and training will not follow the norm?

Faculty and staff who have kept this Medical School running—from their homes—while juggling the additional physical and emotional stresses of caring for (and in most cases helping to teach) their children?

People who go back to the hospital, day after day, knowing how hard their shift is going to be; knowing they’re risking their own safety; knowing that someday, when they have time and energy, they will have to process these months of loss and trauma?

Mental health professionals who have shouldered the burdens of others, spent countless hours listening and comforting, and developed resources to help all of us?

Physicians, students, and trainees who have worked with our patients under these extraordinary circumstances, wearing the armor of PPE, and still showing their human face?

Researchers who dropped their careers’ work to focus on COVID-19? The others with their research stalled, goals unmet, and frustration high?

Laboratory staff who were eager to return to the lab, even with distancing, masks, and time restrictions on their resources?

Physical and respiratory therapists who are tackling the enormous challenge of rehabilitating COVID-19 patients?

Mortuary science faculty who have reached out into their community to support, educate, and inform others in how to navigate grief, safety, and service?

Everyone for being stressed, anxious, afraid, and still continuing to try to do your work normally?

How do I, in a single message, thank everyone for their individual role, each area for their contributions, and each professional category for what they have achieved?

This year has a thousand shattered hopes. Thank you all for staying together and taking care of each other.

Please know that whether or not I am able, I want to thank and recognize each and every one of you. I would not—none of us would—have chosen this pandemic to shape this year, but if I have to go through this, I cannot imagine any group of people I would rather face it with than you.

On behalf of this country, this state, this University, this clinical practice, and especially this Medical School, thank you.