A friend shared this article which speaks of the author's loss of her husband and her baby and how her ongoing mourning helps her see the current pandemic through a different lens. These words from the article specifically spoke to me today:
In our fear of death we simply do not want to think about what happens after our loved ones die. But we must. We seem to be willing, in our understandable terror, to trade away many essential things: basic freedoms, our public life and public institutions for the promise of greater safety from sickness and death, but when that sickness and death come anyway (as it must), what will we do when we find we have made the world worse than it otherwise might have been? If we trade the beauty and order of our society for safety, not only will we find we have lost our dear ones anyway, we will sit and mourn them in a desolate land of our own making.
I have spent many anxious days thinking about families in isolation, older people living alone, scared, separated and maybe even living their last weeks or months away from those who love them. I have wondered if the trade off is worth it. Of course I don't want people to be dying from this terrible virus. I also don't want those I love and care for to be alone and scared and just biding time until (in the case of the elderly) they ultimately die anyway. That doesn't seem okay.
So it does beg the question, 'what are we most afraid of?'
I am more afraid that my husband or one of my children, or parents, or grandchildren will get this virus and die in a hospital without me there. I am most afraid that as they struggle in last weeks, days or minutes, that there won't be a truly loving hand on theirs, whispered words of comfort and assurance that their lives were worth living.
I am more afraid of what this fear is doing to our children as they must remain apart from extended family and now in many places see only strange faces as even those of friends are covered in masks.
I am also afraid of becoming sick and finding myself in a hospital where I am unable to say all the important things to those who can't be by my side and to reassure them that all will be well even if it won't.
In three days we mark the anniversary of my step-son Bobby's death. I write a little about Bobby here.
During Bobby's illness I had a strong faith. God was a palpable presence in my life. People all over the world began a prayer chain for him and for us. I prayed always for a miracle, but mostly for God's will and the courage and strength to endure it as I knew on the day I saw his first x-ray that Bobby would die. I'd worked in oncology for a number of years. I knew the statistics on this kind of cancer. Mostly I just knew. I also knew that in spite of this knowledge, I was to pray for a miracle and accept the outcome. It sounds now like such a contradiction but at the time I just did it. It was a double-edged sword to know the ending. In many ways I thought that if only I did 'enough' I could make him better. I also knew that it was right to spend every moment with him, that we wouldn't have a long lifetime of moments and that we needed to make these ones count.
So what are we doing now with all those from whom we are now separated in fear that we or they may die? Is it worth the sacrifice of the moments? If we had a sure faith that there was something better to follow would it make a difference?
I wish for the sure faith I had that somehow left me years ago. Perhaps it would make the enduring easier. Perhaps it would change my own priorities in how I spend my time.