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Pictures | Thu May 28, 2020 | 2:44pm EDT

A pandemic nurse's love letter to New York City

Nurse Meghan Lindsey takes a selfie with the Manhattan skyline in the background in Brooklyn, New York, May 4, 2020. The coronavirus pandemic has restricted almost everyone's freedoms in America but for Lindsey it has done the opposite. This is the freest she has ever felt.

REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Nurse Meghan Lindsey takes a selfie with the Manhattan skyline in the background in Brooklyn, New York, May 4, 2020. The coronavirus pandemic has restricted almost everyone's freedoms in America but for Lindsey it has done the opposite. This is the...more

Nurse Meghan Lindsey takes a selfie with the Manhattan skyline in the background in Brooklyn, New York, May 4, 2020. The coronavirus pandemic has restricted almost everyone's freedoms in America but for Lindsey it has done the opposite. This is the freest she has ever felt. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
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Meghan Lindsey poses inside the lobby of NYU Winthrop Hospital in Mineola, New York. Traveling to New York City at age 33 to work as a COVID-19 nurse was the first time that Meghan, a married mother of two, had ever left southwest Missouri.

REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Meghan Lindsey poses inside the lobby of NYU Winthrop Hospital in Mineola, New York. Traveling to New York City at age 33 to work as a COVID-19 nurse was the first time that Meghan, a married mother of two, had ever left southwest...more

Meghan Lindsey poses inside the lobby of NYU Winthrop Hospital in Mineola, New York. Traveling to New York City at age 33 to work as a COVID-19 nurse was the first time that Meghan, a married mother of two, had ever left southwest Missouri. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
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"It was my first time on a plane," she said, describing how she came to work 12-hour shifts in the intensive care unit at NYU Winthrop Hospital. "Flying into New York was the first time I'd ever seen the ocean."

REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

"It was my first time on a plane," she said, describing how she came to work 12-hour shifts in the intensive care unit at NYU Winthrop Hospital. "Flying into New York was the first time I'd ever seen the ocean." REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

"It was my first time on a plane," she said, describing how she came to work 12-hour shifts in the intensive care unit at NYU Winthrop Hospital. "Flying into New York was the first time I'd ever seen the ocean." REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
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There are many stories about the lonely coronavirus deaths in the city's hospitals and the traumatic work of the nurses who staff them. 

REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

There are many stories about the lonely coronavirus deaths in the city's hospitals and the traumatic work of the nurses who staff them. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

There are many stories about the lonely coronavirus deaths in the city's hospitals and the traumatic work of the nurses who staff them. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
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4 / 29
Meghan's story is about unexpected opportunities. It's a story of how the pandemic gave a woman the chance to strike out into the world, confront danger and make a difference, and how her husband stayed home to care for their daughters (pictured here with Meghan after she returned home after five weeks away). It's a story about new beginnings.

REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Meghan's story is about unexpected opportunities. It's a story of how the pandemic gave a woman the chance to strike out into the world, confront danger and make a difference, and how her husband stayed home to care for their daughters (pictured here...more

Meghan's story is about unexpected opportunities. It's a story of how the pandemic gave a woman the chance to strike out into the world, confront danger and make a difference, and how her husband stayed home to care for their daughters (pictured here with Meghan after she returned home after five weeks away). It's a story about new beginnings. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
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"I always wanted to do something for my country," said Meghan. "This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do something meaningful."

REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

"I always wanted to do something for my country," said Meghan. "This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do something meaningful." REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

"I always wanted to do something for my country," said Meghan. "This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do something meaningful." REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
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Meghan's first nursing shifts in New York were a shock. There are a lot of sick people in Missouri with chronic diseases like diabetes, where the progressions are slow and the declines are familiar. COVID-19 patients are stunned by a virus that turns their lives upside down and in many cases ends them. "One of my patients had her toes done up all nice and pretty and still had her jewelry on," said Meghan.

REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Meghan's first nursing shifts in New York were a shock. There are a lot of sick people in Missouri with chronic diseases like diabetes, where the progressions are slow and the declines are familiar. COVID-19 patients are stunned by a virus that turns...more

Meghan's first nursing shifts in New York were a shock. There are a lot of sick people in Missouri with chronic diseases like diabetes, where the progressions are slow and the declines are familiar. COVID-19 patients are stunned by a virus that turns their lives upside down and in many cases ends them. "One of my patients had her toes done up all nice and pretty and still had her jewelry on," said Meghan. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
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7 / 29
Because they were coronavirus patients and visitors were banned, it was Meghan who would hold their hands as they died. "Once you FaceTime and you meet their family and you hear them crying and sobbing, you know their cute little nicknames and you start to know them, it just gets to be really personal," said Meghan, seen here at church in Missouri as mascara runs from a tear during Sunday morning service. "You have a hard time separating yourself and not truly grieving for them as well."

REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Because they were coronavirus patients and visitors were banned, it was Meghan who would hold their hands as they died. "Once you FaceTime and you meet their family and you hear them crying and sobbing, you know their cute little nicknames and you...more

Because they were coronavirus patients and visitors were banned, it was Meghan who would hold their hands as they died. "Once you FaceTime and you meet their family and you hear them crying and sobbing, you know their cute little nicknames and you start to know them, it just gets to be really personal," said Meghan, seen here at church in Missouri as mascara runs from a tear during Sunday morning service. "You have a hard time separating yourself and not truly grieving for them as well." REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
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Meghan Lindsey smokes a cigarette while swinging, as her daughter Braelyn, 9, looks on from the porch at their home in Neosho, Missouri. Despite all of the death, Meghan's time in New York City's COVID-19 wards was unexpectedly affirming. The pandemic gave Meghan something that her life in Missouri so far had not: a feeling of everything sliding into place. When Meghan graduated from nursing school, it wasn't like she imagined. It turned out to be just a job. She mourned. 

REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Meghan Lindsey smokes a cigarette while swinging, as her daughter Braelyn, 9, looks on from the porch at their home in Neosho, Missouri. Despite all of the death, Meghan's time in New York City's COVID-19 wards was unexpectedly affirming. The...more

Meghan Lindsey smokes a cigarette while swinging, as her daughter Braelyn, 9, looks on from the porch at their home in Neosho, Missouri. Despite all of the death, Meghan's time in New York City's COVID-19 wards was unexpectedly affirming. The pandemic gave Meghan something that her life in Missouri so far had not: a feeling of everything sliding into place. When Meghan graduated from nursing school, it wasn't like she imagined. It turned out to be just a job. She mourned. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
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"Now for once, it's actually something important," said Meghan, seen here with daughter Braelyn at church. "This is the first time since I've become a nurse that it's like, 'yes, this is why.' I can make a difference, and I can help, and I am strong enough for this." Her kids, she said, are proud. "They know that what I'm doing is hard and that I put my life in danger."

REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

"Now for once, it's actually something important," said Meghan, seen here with daughter Braelyn at church. "This is the first time since I've become a nurse that it's like, 'yes, this is why.' I can make a difference, and I can help, and I am strong...more

"Now for once, it's actually something important," said Meghan, seen here with daughter Braelyn at church. "This is the first time since I've become a nurse that it's like, 'yes, this is why.' I can make a difference, and I can help, and I am strong enough for this." Her kids, she said, are proud. "They know that what I'm doing is hard and that I put my life in danger." REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
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10 / 29
Meghan greets her mother-in-law Amber Dougherty, after not seeing her for five weeks, at her home outside of Branson, Missouri. Meghan is from a small town in Missouri. Most Sundays, she goes to church. Her mom was a manager at Walmart and her dad worked construction. Before he lost his job to the pandemic, her husband Aaron sold fire suppression systems to small businesses. Meghan is the first in her family to finish college and has long held her family together.

REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Meghan greets her mother-in-law Amber Dougherty, after not seeing her for five weeks, at her home outside of Branson, Missouri. Meghan is from a small town in Missouri. Most Sundays, she goes to church. Her mom was a manager at Walmart and her dad...more

Meghan greets her mother-in-law Amber Dougherty, after not seeing her for five weeks, at her home outside of Branson, Missouri. Meghan is from a small town in Missouri. Most Sundays, she goes to church. Her mom was a manager at Walmart and her dad worked construction. Before he lost his job to the pandemic, her husband Aaron sold fire suppression systems to small businesses. Meghan is the first in her family to finish college and has long held her family together. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
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11 / 29
Meghan Lindsey watches her daughters Braelyn, 9, and Avery, 6, swim at Table Rock Lake outside Branson, Missouri. As thrilling as it was to be in New York, it was also hard. Meghan often wondered if she should come home. Her husband Aaron told her no. He and the girls were fine, what she was doing mattered and he was proud of her. He sometimes called her superwoman.

REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Meghan Lindsey watches her daughters Braelyn, 9, and Avery, 6, swim at Table Rock Lake outside Branson, Missouri. As thrilling as it was to be in New York, it was also hard. Meghan often wondered if she should come home. Her husband Aaron told her...more

Meghan Lindsey watches her daughters Braelyn, 9, and Avery, 6, swim at Table Rock Lake outside Branson, Missouri. As thrilling as it was to be in New York, it was also hard. Meghan often wondered if she should come home. Her husband Aaron told her no. He and the girls were fine, what she was doing mattered and he was proud of her. He sometimes called her superwoman. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
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Meghan holds hands with her husband Aaron during Sunday morning service at the Joplin Family Worship Center. "If he wasn't such a good dad and there for my children, I could never do this," said Meghan. He deserves credit too, she said, "but I guess you could say the limelight's on me."

REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Meghan holds hands with her husband Aaron during Sunday morning service at the Joplin Family Worship Center. "If he wasn't such a good dad and there for my children, I could never do this," said Meghan. He deserves credit too, she said, "but I guess...more

Meghan holds hands with her husband Aaron during Sunday morning service at the Joplin Family Worship Center. "If he wasn't such a good dad and there for my children, I could never do this," said Meghan. He deserves credit too, she said, "but I guess you could say the limelight's on me." REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
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Meghan Lindsey eats dinner by herself after her shift on Mother’s Day at her hotel lobby in Queens. Being a COVID-19 travel nurse isn't glamorous. Meghan had to wear protective gear during her shifts and there was a lengthy decontamination process when she got home each night. 

REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Meghan Lindsey eats dinner by herself after her shift on Mother’s Day at her hotel lobby in Queens. Being a COVID-19 travel nurse isn't glamorous. Meghan had to wear protective gear during her shifts and there was a lengthy decontamination process...more

Meghan Lindsey eats dinner by herself after her shift on Mother’s Day at her hotel lobby in Queens. Being a COVID-19 travel nurse isn't glamorous. Meghan had to wear protective gear during her shifts and there was a lengthy decontamination process when she got home each night. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
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14 / 29
She lived in a hotel room with another nurse and had to find a laundromat every few days to wash her scrubs.

REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

She lived in a hotel room with another nurse and had to find a laundromat every few days to wash her scrubs. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

She lived in a hotel room with another nurse and had to find a laundromat every few days to wash her scrubs. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
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Traveling nurses Meghan Lindsey and Nekiesha Clark take pictures at Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Traveling nurses Meghan Lindsey and Nekiesha Clark take pictures at Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Traveling nurses Meghan Lindsey and Nekiesha Clark take pictures at Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
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But sometimes it did feel like a grand adventure. She saw the Statue of Liberty. She heard someone speaking Russian. She learned how to fold a slice of pizza.

REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

But sometimes it did feel like a grand adventure. She saw the Statue of Liberty. She heard someone speaking Russian. She learned how to fold a slice of pizza. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

But sometimes it did feel like a grand adventure. She saw the Statue of Liberty. She heard someone speaking Russian. She learned how to fold a slice of pizza. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
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Meghan Lindsey touches the ocean for her first time in Long Beach, New York. Restaurants sometimes gave her and her friends free food "because we're nurses," she said with a bit of awe. She took selfie after selfie standing in the middle of empty New York City streets and no cabbies honked at her.

REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Meghan Lindsey touches the ocean for her first time in Long Beach, New York. Restaurants sometimes gave her and her friends free food "because we're nurses," she said with a bit of awe. She took selfie after selfie standing in the middle of empty New...more

Meghan Lindsey touches the ocean for her first time in Long Beach, New York. Restaurants sometimes gave her and her friends free food "because we're nurses," she said with a bit of awe. She took selfie after selfie standing in the middle of empty New York City streets and no cabbies honked at her. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
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18 / 29
Meghan Lindsey takes a photo of a heart she drew in the sand after seeing the ocean for her first time in Long Beach, New York. Her husband Aaron said he was sometimes a little jealous (it's New York), occasionally worried (again, New York), but mostly he was just really proud. "Meghan hasn't been out there in the world," he said. She nailed it.

REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Meghan Lindsey takes a photo of a heart she drew in the sand after seeing the ocean for her first time in Long Beach, New York. Her husband Aaron said he was sometimes a little jealous (it's New York), occasionally worried (again, New York), but...more

Meghan Lindsey takes a photo of a heart she drew in the sand after seeing the ocean for her first time in Long Beach, New York. Her husband Aaron said he was sometimes a little jealous (it's New York), occasionally worried (again, New York), but mostly he was just really proud. "Meghan hasn't been out there in the world," he said. She nailed it. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
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Meghan Lindsey plays with daughter Avery after returning home to Neosho, Missouri. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Meghan Lindsey plays with daughter Avery after returning home to Neosho, Missouri. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Meghan Lindsey plays with daughter Avery after returning home to Neosho, Missouri. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
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20 / 29
A welcome home cake sits cut during a party for Meghan Lindsey. Now, at the end of her contract, Meghan is unsure of what the future holds. She is back in a small town in the Midwest. She no longer has a job and she is coming off the biggest high of her life. She sometimes asks herself, will I have the desire to go back to this life?

REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

A welcome home cake sits cut during a party for Meghan Lindsey. Now, at the end of her contract, Meghan is unsure of what the future holds. She is back in a small town in the Midwest. She no longer has a job and she is coming off the biggest high of...more

A welcome home cake sits cut during a party for Meghan Lindsey. Now, at the end of her contract, Meghan is unsure of what the future holds. She is back in a small town in the Midwest. She no longer has a job and she is coming off the biggest high of her life. She sometimes asks herself, will I have the desire to go back to this life? REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
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21 / 29
Meghan Lindsey stands silhouetted during sunset at Gantry State Park in Queens. Something about New York stood out to her: people there had aspirations to make something of themselves.

REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Meghan Lindsey stands silhouetted during sunset at Gantry State Park in Queens. Something about New York stood out to her: people there had aspirations to make something of themselves. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Meghan Lindsey stands silhouetted during sunset at Gantry State Park in Queens. Something about New York stood out to her: people there had aspirations to make something of themselves. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
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Meghan Lindsey wears a protective face mask while driving in Brooklyn, New York. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Meghan Lindsey wears a protective face mask while driving in Brooklyn, New York. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Meghan Lindsey wears a protective face mask while driving in Brooklyn, New York. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
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Meghan Lindsey waits to be tested for the coronavirus at a walk in clinic in Long Beach, New York. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Meghan Lindsey waits to be tested for the coronavirus at a walk in clinic in Long Beach, New York. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Meghan Lindsey waits to be tested for the coronavirus at a walk in clinic in Long Beach, New York. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
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24 / 29
Traveling nurses Meghan Lindsey and Nekiesha Clark ride the plane train to their connecting flight home at Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Traveling nurses Meghan Lindsey and Nekiesha Clark ride the plane train to their connecting flight home at Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Traveling nurses Meghan Lindsey and Nekiesha Clark ride the plane train to their connecting flight home at Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
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Meghan Lindsey embraces her daughters Braelyn, 9, and Avery, 6, after being away for five weeks, upon her arrival at Fayetteville Regional Airport in Fayetteville, Arkansas. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Meghan Lindsey embraces her daughters Braelyn, 9, and Avery, 6, after being away for five weeks, upon her arrival at Fayetteville Regional Airport in Fayetteville, Arkansas. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Meghan Lindsey embraces her daughters Braelyn, 9, and Avery, 6, after being away for five weeks, upon her arrival at Fayetteville Regional Airport in Fayetteville, Arkansas. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
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Meghan Lindsey leaves the airport with her husband Aaron and daughters Braelyn, 9, and Avery, 6, after being away for five weeks, upon her arrival at Fayetteville Regional Airport in Arkansas. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Meghan Lindsey leaves the airport with her husband Aaron and daughters Braelyn, 9, and Avery, 6, after being away for five weeks, upon her arrival at Fayetteville Regional Airport in Arkansas. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Meghan Lindsey leaves the airport with her husband Aaron and daughters Braelyn, 9, and Avery, 6, after being away for five weeks, upon her arrival at Fayetteville Regional Airport in Arkansas. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
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Meghan Lindsey leads her daughter Braelyn, 9, on a horse at a farm outside of Joplin, Missouri. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Meghan Lindsey leads her daughter Braelyn, 9, on a horse at a farm outside of Joplin, Missouri. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Meghan Lindsey leads her daughter Braelyn, 9, on a horse at a farm outside of Joplin, Missouri. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
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Meghan Lindsey rides a go-kart with her daughter Avery, 6, at an amusement park in Branson, Missouri. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Meghan Lindsey rides a go-kart with her daughter Avery, 6, at an amusement park in Branson, Missouri. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Meghan Lindsey rides a go-kart with her daughter Avery, 6, at an amusement park in Branson, Missouri. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
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