The pandemic hit so many industries hard: some people were classified “essential workers” and made to work in an ever-devolving atmosphere where they often felt unsafe, uncared for, unappreciated, and overworked, meanwhile others were deemed “nonessential” and sent home, laid-off, furloughed with no income, no safety net, and no end in sight. Businesses, small and large, closed, some of them forever. People were isolated, alone, scared, angry. Life became frightening and overwhelming for so many.
I started Lotus of Love because I wanted to create a way of showing others that I see them: that they matter, they are appreciated, and they are doing a good job. I also wanted to provide a suicide crisis prevention resource to someone who may be fighting a battle no one else can see. I decided to fold little origami lotus flowers and include on the bottom a handwritten message of love, compassion, and well-being along with the number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline so that, if it was ever needed, there would be help right in the palm of one’s hand.
My project was inspired by a patient I had many years ago when I still worked in nursing. She was being treated for a very infectious and dangerous strain of tuberculosis and was in the hospital many, many months. Each time we anticipated being able to discharge her, she either took a turn and got much worse, or her tests came back saying she was still a risk to others and had to stay longer. For her entire hospital stay she was kept alone in a negative pressure room. She was unable to visit her family or see anyone but her hospital caregivers who, just like in these COVID times, were in full PPE gear and could only spare a few minutes to chat before we had to get back to our other duties. To keep herself occupied as she fought for her life, she began folding origami cranes. She began with a goal of folding 1000 cranes, on the day she was discharged she had folded 3450 cranes, all sizes, all shapes, all colors. She gave each of us a mason jar of origami cranes with our name on it and a note of thanks for caring for her, always coming when she called (for those who know, “it’s beeping again!”), and for always taking a few minutes to talk with her about our lives and share in hers. I will never forget her.