Thousands of virus-related stories of compassion by strangers are emerging. One that caught my eye involved this CNN piece about how several never-named nurses took turns staying with Michelle Bennett’s 75-year-old mother, Carolann Christine Gann, in her final hour as she battled the virus.

As Michelle related, “Not being able to be there and hold my mom’s hand, rub her head, tell her the things I wanted to say to her. It was such a helpless feeling.”

When it appeared that Carolann’s breathing had changed, suggesting that death was near, a nurse at the Swedish Issaquah Hospital in Issaquah, WA called Michelle from her personal cell phone to use FaceTime. The nurse then said, “I’m going to put the phone up to her (Carolann’s) face so that you can tell her you love her and say your goodbyes.”

The nurse also told Michelle that her mother wouldn’t die without someone at her side; the nurse said, “She will not be alone, we will stay with her till the end.”

After telling her mother the she loved her, Michelle said, “Mom, it’s OK to pass on. It’s OK to go now.” An hour later, Carolann died.

Michelle said that she could see the nurse crying as she took the phone away from Carolann. “I know how difficult this is for them,” Michelle related. “I can’t imagine being on the front lines …but then have the compassion and the empathy to be right there in that moment as if it was their own mother. That was one of the most amazing things I’ve experienced.“

Carolann Gann was a nurse herself, retiring after 39 years of service. To honor her mother and the nurses who helped in her final hour, Michelle set up a GoFundMe campaign to raise $5000 for all the nurses in King County WA. My last check of the funding page showed that $2010 had been raised toward that goal.

We’ve all become far more aware of the sheer courage of our health care workers. Please, if you know someone in healthcare, write them a note or send an email telling them thank you. We all benefit from their heroism.