I contemplate my own mortality more during the month of November than any other time of the year.
Here in the Northern Hemisphere, the natural world is losing all its color and entering into a period of dormancy. The light is losing out to the darkness. And it just feels like a struggle. Simply getting up in the morning — just going about daily tasks — feels like a battle.
This year, however, I find this season extra-challenging because of a resurgence of COVID-19 in our area.
One sophomore in H2O’s Centennial Life Group has been out of commission for three weeks with COVID. She had a week of symptoms (and quarantine), even though her COVID tests were negative. But then she tested positive for COVID and went home to recover. Over the course of the next week, her symptoms worsened, and she developed a case of pneumonia in one lung — so she was briefly hospitalized to treat the pneumonia. Even after her pneumonia started to improve, however, her other symptoms continued to worsen — and she was hospitalized a second time to deal with dehydration. Her blood vessels were so weak that the medical staff had trouble getting intravenous fluids into her. And it seems like her recovery was in serious doubt, at least for a minute or two.
Fortunately, she’s recently turned a corner and returned to Kent. But she’s still far from full-strength. Even a short walk leaves her out of breath. And it’s uncertain how long it will take her to recover.
Another junior in the same Life Group has also been out of commission for most of the last three weeks because of family members struggling with COVID. At one point, there were seventeen people in her family who tested positive for COVID. Several members of their family had to be hospitalized at one point or another. And now, three members of the family have died from COVID: all in the space of just one week. Her uncle died last Thursday. Her great-aunt died over the weekend. And at the beginning of this week, another aunt died. It just feels like so much grief, so much sadness, for one family to carry. And an especially heavy burden for a college student to carry.
Fortunately, she never got sick herself. She came back to Kent for a little while this week, between funerals. And she’s faithfully walking with God through all of the heartache. But still, it’s so sad. Such dark days to endure.
I have another friend who is a pastor at a different church in our network, and I recently learned that he has also been hospitalized with COVID-19. We’re hoping and praying that he will recover — but he’s in his 50s and has some other complicating factors, so it feels scary. Somehow, this friend’s illness has hit closest to home. I know his wife and his kids. I know a lot of people from his church. So any long-term implications of his struggle with COVID-19 would have direct effects on our network and on me, personally.
I’m praying. I’m trying to walk faithfully with God through these dark days. But it’s harder than usual these days. I just want to keep looking for the light in the midst of the darkness.