I never watched the popular television show Touched By an Angel. I never much believed in its premise of an angel passing along the messages from God to those needing help. Even if she did look like Roma Downey.
Among the hundreds of thousands of tchochkes that fill my house, there is not a single angel to be found. Not of plastic, porcelain, or wood. Nada. The closest I came to angels was owning a 1977 jigsaw puzzle of Charlies’s favorite, Farrah Fawcett. I didn’t believe in angels.
But COVID has changed that thinking for me.
The pandemic has brought the angel out in so many of us and I can truthfully say I have been touched by an angel.
The Elusive Vaccine
Like so many, it has been extremely difficult to get an appointment for a vaccine.
For weeks like thousands of others on Long Island, I’d been trying desperately to get my 75-year husband vaccinated only to be met with the familiar dead-end of no appointment available. Jumping from site to site on my computer, the repetitive hitting of refresh on my laptop was anything but refreshing. No vaccines were available. All it ever yielded was frustration.
Against the frenetic backdrop of racing to pack up my house in Huntington for a move and managing a husband in cognitive decline, my patience was being tried. A few weeks earlier by the stroke of good luck and the persistence of a generous loving friend she had scored an appointment for me in March.
But there was no one to help Hershel and the task was too complex for him.
Casting my net wide, I decided to join a Facebook group I had heard about. COVID Vaccine Help- New York a group of grassroots volunteers who since February have been working tirelessly around the clock to secure appointments for complete strangers. With an astounding success rate, they have been able to get these elusive appointments. They were not only miracle workers, they were angels.
Yesterday within minutes of posting a plea for assistance on their Facebook page I became the recipient of this invaluable help and was contacted by an eager volunteer named Jean. The angel sent to me worked unfalteringly from 6am till mid-afternoon and indeed she finally got an appointment for Hershel. at a Walgreens in Brooklyn the next day. As though winning the lottery we were both ecstatic.
But in a bit of remarkable kismet, as life often is meant to be I had the opportunity to help my good-hearted angel as well.
A great deal of the day was spent back and forth texting, private messaging one another giving her important practical information as she tried to procure an appointment,
Little did I know as I provided essential information, how essential some other information would turn out to be.
Overcome with gratitude when she found an appointment, I thanked her profusely remarking how proud she should be of herself for her diligence, commitment, and heart. She replied that no one had ever said that to her before and she was so touched.
Mentioning that this was a particularly traumatic time in her life, she acknowledged it was helpful to help others. I concurred and without going into specifics, shared that I too suffered traumas and understood the pain.
An unexpected trust and connection had built up after hours of rapid-fire texts exchanges about locations and appointments. Now a personal connection ran parallel with the task at hand. “Not wanting to be mysterious” about her trauma, she shared that she only recently recovered memories of being sexually and physically abused by a “friend” of the family from age 5 to 15. Debilitating and devastating to learn this 40 years later, she did not want to hide in shame and was in the early stage of trying to process it all even as she dealt with skepticism among people. She had not an inkling that I too was a survivor of years of childhood sexual abuse and had only recovered my memories in my mid-30s.
It was my chance to help her.
In a remarkable coincidence, I had spent the day working on an essay on this very topic.-The fallout of the false memory syndrome and its impact 30 years later. This pseudo science that began in 1992 that created “ the memory wars” of the 1990s cast doubt on recovered memories of sexual abuse that had left tremendous damage in its wake.
After sharing a bit of my background we felt our meeting was fortuitous. New to this process of recovery and feeling alone she now had an understanding ear in me. Her text that she never had that kind of nurturing before, filled me with gratitude.
Helping an Angel With a Wounded Wing
I now have the chance to take this angel under my wing and help shepherd her through this difficult life-altering experience. It was a synchronicity to be able to give back. Jean felt alone and without guidance in the direction, she wanted to go. She wanted to write, she said, and start a blog to help other survivors, and hoped that perhaps I could serve as her mentor. That is certainly something I can help her with.
The following day, I emailed Jean a link to a post I did on Traumatic Memory- Remembering What We Want to Forget. Her response was quick stating that she was only halfway through reading it and “it was earth-shattering” to her. My words had resonated with her and validated her feelings and her reality as nothing had done before.
A few minutes later I received a text from my husband to say he had gotten his vaccine and tears welled up in relief and gratitude. At that precise moment of his text, I received another email from Jean and I quickly opened it up. She said she felt 50 pounds lighter reading my words. The tears of gratitude that were welling up quickly burst open.
The opportunity to help others is always available and what we get back is often more than we ever expected.
Just as there is a special place in heaven for those 500,000 friends family and neighbors we lost to COVID there is now a special place in my heart for the angels that walk among us.
© Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream, 2021.