One evening, after another brutal shift, he joined his wife to pick up food at a taco truck. Many people in line weren’t wearing the cloth face masks that could help slow the spread of the virus. One unmasked man made eye contact with Rene and commented to his companions about some people being sheep.
“You want me to take my mask off? I’ll be happy to,” he told the man. “But you should know that I’m an ER doctor and I just did CPR and intubated a COVID patient.”
The man stepped back.
Rene said that when he broke down after getting vaccinated, it wasn’t mere relief at being able to care for patients without falling ill. He said that everything that he had pushed down, welled up: the frustration, anger, gratitude and grief. The exhaustion. The fear that people will refuse the vaccine or that the delivery of the shots will falter.
“I want my kids to be able to do the things they want to do. I want us as a couple to do the things we want to do. I want our son to know his grandparents,” he said.
“I want to go places. I want to hold my family the second I walk in the door. I want our life back.
“And we have this one shot.”