I could tell you to stay home as someone intimately involved in one of the area hospital’s emergency planning and response.
I could tell you to stay home as an insider who gets to be a fly on the wall (or on the conference call) when all of the area physicians discuss the most urgent needs.
I could tell you to stay home as a school board member at a local charter school who has been on calls with the governor and other state officials.
I could tell you to stay home as an immunocompromised individual concerned for my own health and wellbeing.
I could tell you to stay home simply as a human being who is watching this unfold worldwide and is terrified about what’s coming.
But in truth, none of those roles are the reason I want you to stay home. There is one single reason that this matters to me, and that reason has a name: Ben.
Ben is my husband and an emergency room nurse. He’s 5-foot-8, devastatingly handsome, chiseled from taking his time at the gym much more seriously than I do. He has dark hair and dark eyes and a prominent nose; his cheeks are kissed with freckles like the sky is kissed with stars.
Besides being nice to look at, he’s a pretty great person, too. When he learned a former patient lived just down the street from us, Ben took our kids to rake his leaves all fall and shovel his driveway part of the winter because he knew this individual’s circumstances made those activities difficult for him.
Ben already works long, exhausting hours to care for members of our community when they have an emergent or urgent need. But when this hits, he’s prepared to work all the hours, every day, for as long as it takes to do as much good as he possibly can.
And he’s not alone. The dedication, the skills, the willingness to put himself in harm’s way – those are characteristics of every nurse right now. Beyond the nurses, those are the characteristics and the realities of the entire healthcare team. The registration staff, the nurses aids, the respiratory therapists, the lab and radiology staff, the cleaning specialists, the maintenance folks, the doctors and providers and on and on.
If you have one of them in your life, use them as your motivation to continue to make these incredibly difficult sacrifices.
But if you don’t, use mine. Do it for Ben.
For everyone who is conducting their lives or organizations as business as usual: Stop right now for Ben.
For everyone who has taken measures to socially distance: Do a little more for Ben.
For Ben, do not hold social gatherings, including family gatherings.
For Ben, allow your employees to work remotely. Or even better, insist on it.
For Ben, do not go into the local urgent care centers or emergency department unless you have a true medical need that cannot wait. (Of course call your local provider to consult on whether your needs are urgent or not.)
For Ben, wash your hands, sneeze into a tissue or your elbow, and for the love of all that is holy stop touching your face.
For Ben, pray to whatever Being you have faith in that we’re doing enough and that we’ve done it early enough.
Please, please, please, with a roll of toilet paper on top, take this seriously.
If you need a face for this campaign, if you need someone to fight for, if you need motivation to keep doing what you have been doing even though it’s really, really hard, feel free to borrow mine. Do it for Ben.
And if you do happen to see Ben in the emergency department should you be there for care, please tell him I love him and miss him and I look forward to wrapping my arms around him when this blows over and we can be together again.
Jade Stellmon set sail for a three-hour tour on the Palouse in 2001. She is now happily marooned in Moscow with her spouse and five children.