To all the amazing brave people

We are so grateful to all the incredibly hardworking people. On behalf of Flow, online editor Bente pays tribute to everyone who is now keeping their countries running.

“He’s in a coma.”

I’m on the phone with my mom. I live in North Holland (a province in the north of the country), the rest of my family live in Brabant, which is in the south of the Netherlands. Because I can’t go visit them at the moment, we call each other a lot. Sometimes every day. During these calls, we talk about the latest news and how we feel about it. But we also discuss simple things such as new recipes and what we did that day. For a few minutes it feels as if life has not changed. But it has.

“Who, mom?” I ask. “Who’s in a coma?”

“Your aunt’s father-in-law. Nobody can visit him anymore.”

“Will he still wake from it, do you think?”

“I don’t know.”

Then we both cry. We tell each other to be careful. That we are concerned. But we also tell each other that everything will be fine. And, because we don’t have anything else to do, we chat again about her still needing to do the laundry and about going to the supermarket. And then we hang up.

I think about my uncle and his father all day long. While I do the groceries, work and cook. While playing a board game with my boyfriend, and also in bed, when I should have been asleep ages ago, my thoughts return to him. For the first time, the virus is really getting close, and that opens my eyes. Because although I, like everyone, occasionally feel scared and insecure and sad, I am still very lucky with my home workspace, lovely home and good health. The world around me has completely changed, but I can still retreat to a safe cocoon of regular working hours, peace and quiet and a bit of routine.

A luxury, I realize, that I owe to everyone who keeps my country (and everyone else’s around the world for we are all in the same situation)  running in this time of crisis. The doctors trying to keep my aunt’s father-in-law alive. The nurses who work such long days and weeks under difficult conditions. The shelf-fillers, who ensure that we can still put a proper meal on the table each evening. The pilots and stewards, who try to get a daughter back home to her family and thus put their own health on the line. The teachers, who are making every effort to still be able to teach our children. And the cleaners, who continue to do their work at all costs so that we are less exposed to the risk of catching the virus.

I am so incredibly grateful to all those amazing hardworking people. And all my colleagues at Flow are too. We can’t care for people or make them better, we can’t fly people home or do any other vital stuff. But: we have words and images at our disposal. That is why this blog, an ovation in writing, is for all you special people. Thank you for carrying the world on your shoulders. And if that weight seems to get too heavy, then know that the whole of the world is thinking about you, and that we will help lift you wherever and whenever possible.

Text Bente van de Wouw  Translation Julia Gorodecky  Image Irina Iriser/