A few days ago, a woman died of COVID-19.
We met in sixth grade. We dated in high school. She took me home to meet her parents. Her mom seemed fine with me. Her dad loathed me. We didn’t date long. She was concerned for my soul, because I didn’t speak in tongues. Her brother did. Those were interesting prayers.
She married a guy I’ve known since third grade. He met her in sixth grade, too. I don’t know if he speaks in tongues, but he spoke her language better than I ever could. And I’m glad. They were married more than 24 years.
They have four children. Two, they adopted in November 2020.
As she struggled to breathe—eventually being intubated—her husband prayed fervently for her and fought for her care. He pled with friends on Facebook to pray for her. Their friends prayed.
After midnight Sept. 3, 2021, he posted his last update about her: “This morning at 12:20 a.m. the love of my life was able to enter the gates of heaven.”
Such should be greeted with holy silence.
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We didn’t keep up after high school. So, I don’t know her views on a lot of things. I don’t know what she thought about masks and vaccinations, if she was vaccinated or wore a mask, or if she even could receive the vaccine. Wag those fingers somewhere else.
As much faith as her husband had, as grateful as he is she no longer suffers and now is with Jesus, he is devastated, nonetheless.
Tell him it’s just a virus, it’s just working its way through society, everything will be OK, life goes on. As you console him, suggest he read the Book of Job.
Then, smile gently, and tell it to the kids.
Tell it to all those who’ve lost a loved one to the flu, cancer, heart disease, auto accidents, guns, suicide and a million other ways death gets us.
Or, better yet, pull up a chair, press your lips together, bite your tongue, and allow yourself to mourn with those who mourn. Allow yourself to agree with them—and with God—that death is a deep wound, that a world that includes death isn’t the world God intended. Why else would Jesus conquer death—and only after he wept?
If it really is OK—and if by OK we mean suffering is temporal for those in Jesus, because he conquered sin and death—then it’s OK for us to be honest about suffering here and now. If life goes on, there will be time later to go on.
Before life goes on, two newly adopted children—who thought they were getting their “forever mom”—are trying to get their heads around the loss of yet another mother. We don’t need to minimize that question with, “It’ll be OK.”
For their new “forever dad”—who is wondering, as he makes funeral and memorial service arrangements, what life looks like after the one who’s known him three-quarters of that life—for him, knowing what took her doesn’t make it OK.
Chances are good you knew one of the more than 600,000 people COVID-19 has taken just in the United States. You may be closer to the loss than many reading this. You may be a spouse or child who knows Job’s sorrow well enough, who isn’t comforted just yet by God’s will, however well it may be with your soul.
You may be certain of God without our sales pitch. You may want us to hold our tongues. You may want us to hold vigil with you, silently.
But here I am, adding words to words, because I knew this one, and I don’t know what else to do.
Lord, please provide everything Denise’s husband and kids need. May this simple prayer be more than added words.