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There are superheroes all around us at this time, says Derry doctor

Anne McCloskey is a retired GP and an Aontú councillor on Derry City and Strabane District Council. She has decided to come out of retirement to support her former colleagues in the fight against coronavirus.

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Councillor Anne McCloskey

It’s the not knowing which is the worst part.

Like a B-rated sci-fi movie, our world is being ravaged by a killer virus which will affect tens of thousands, maybe millions.

No-one knows.

The experts disagree.

Politicians do too, though that’s less of a concern.

Worst, there is no certainty of a happy ending, with a superhero with special powers and a shiny suit to sort it all out.

In a world where for almost all illnesses, we have effective diagnosis and treatment, and international experience and research to guide management, this Covid 19 lark is beyond our comprehension.

We people who are accustomed to a 'pill for every ill' must readjust to a new set of paradigms.

The prospect of arbitrary illness and possible death, without the presence of loved ones at the bedside, and for those of faith, the comfort of the sacraments, is terrifying.

For families, being unable to have the beautiful and peculiarly Irish ritual of farewell, a wake and funeral to grieve and offer thanks, compounds the dread.

We know that the young and healthy are likely to come through this, and that it is our elderly who are likely to succumb.

Many of the sacrifices we make are to protect the vulnerable and those who care for them.

But there are no guarantees that any of us is safe.

Prince and pauper are vulnerable-tho it’s fair to assume that the prince isn’t coping from a homeless shelter or wracked with worry about how the bills will be paid.

As with all human endeavour, there is goodness in abundance.

People are delivering hot meals from their own resources to the isolated and vulnerable.

Supermarket staff are stocking shelves, scanning tins and packets and smiling through the fear.

Council staff empty bins, clean the streets and work from home to keep the wheels of this city turning.

Bus drivers, mechanics, what we used to call lorry drivers but are now logistics operatives, all are at their posts, so that we can eat and stay healthy.

Mammies and daddies, facing their own worries are reassuring their children that all will be well, putting them over their lessons and trying their best to keep them occupied and safe.

So many people who have left work are offering their skills and experience to help in whatever way they can.

Machinists skilled from years in Derry’s factories are working at home making masks to protect their neighbours.

An incredible 40,000 people have volunteered to help the beleaguered NHS.

A friend confided regarding her own health worries that she wasn’t concerned so much about herself, but about what might happen her mother with dementia, for whom she cares at home.

This is love in action.

Our postman came this morning, our usual chat done at two metres distance.

We still managed to cover our usual repertoire of politics, weather, health and families, while keeping two metres part.

My washing machine packed in. Well I think it’s a vital service, so I rang the man, fully expecting him to tell me to get lost.

He told me he would look at it, but wanted to work alone, as his son is immunosuppressed.

He came in the back door, I left the money in an envelope, and my clothesline now flutters with clean sheets.

I feel especially for our young people, the unique, primal, mad impulsive joy of teenage springtime pulsing in their veins with the first sunny days.

They are staying indoors, chatting online, putting in the days, making mad memes for the craic and to keep sane.

My niece, doing her Leaving, and with no prospect of exams, is still doing a bit of study, and helping her daddy plant spuds.
Her school days ended without the rituals of parties and goodbyes.

Even our wee Fionnuala, my four year old grandchild, who lives with us and is the light of our lives in these dark days, knows that school is now at the kitchen table, because of the 'bad germs' which and might make people sick.

She washes her hands hourly - and the floor and walls - with enthusiasm and great care.

Everywhere, people are doing what they must, often at great personal cost, while struggling with their own worries about work, bills and what the future will bring.

They do these things cheerfully and in the best way they can.

Superheroes don’t always wear fancy costumes, they are all around us.

In these surreal times, we see our old certainties and values exposed as worthless.

They seem to have been replaced by an older and more tried and tested value system, less about rights, and more about what is right.

Let’s hope that these lessons stick when Covid 19 is a distant memory.

If you have a story or want to send a photo or video to us please contact the Derry Now editorial team on 028 7129 6600 for Derry City stories Or 028 7774 3970 for County Derry stories. Or you can email editor@derrynews.net or editor@derrypost.com at any time.


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