In this current environment, with an under-researched threat of disease, an ill-prepared government, and an unknown global impact, I can’t help thinking about death itself.
Truly, during the year of 2015 with a series of very tragic family losses, including my son’s, I viewed death in a very new way. I started to embrace the belief that, while I know it is inevitable, death is nothing to fear. I hate that my sweet boy is no longer on Earth, and I struggle with that loss every day. But when I die, I believe I will see him again, and for me right now, that is enough to inspire me to push forward in the best way I know how.
But COVID-19 is sickening and killing people in a very painful and tragic way. Loss of the ability to breathe is one of my biggest fears. I hate dark, open water for the fear it will swallow me. I hate confined places, for fear oxygen will be depleted. And this disease, for the vast majority, takes away the very ability to take breaths and oxygenate the blood.
When our son went to Heaven, he had not been conscious for several days, and his body was unable to breathe on its own. He was on a ventilator, hooked up to dozens of IV lines delivering necessary medication through multiple ports, was receiving dialysis, recovering from a major abdominal surgery, and faced multiple organ failure. Eventually, that is what took his life. Multiple, simultaneous, organ failure.
I take much comfort in the fact that he was not awake for a period of time before his body shut down permanently. While it was difficult not to interact with him during that time, we still read to him, and held his hand, and sang to him bedside. We could not hold or cradle him. We could not hear his voice or enjoy his personality. But he was not in pain during his final days. And I believe his soul may have reached Heaven well before his organs failed him.
I try not to think about when or how I will die. It doesn’t bring me comfort and it takes me to dark places. But I know that losing my ability to breathe is my biggest fear. That is what COVID-19 is doing to its victims.
I do not want to become infected. I do not want those I love to become infected. I want to be safe from this threat, but I also want to hug my friends, go back to work, and let my son go to school.
It is a world full of unknowns, and while I truly try to convey strength whenever possible, right now I am just scared. I am scared of this virus–more than I am of financial ruin or any other devastation.
Today, I just want to hope and pray that it doesn’t reach me or anyone I love. But we have to depend on the actions, opinions, and empathy of everyone to overcome this. And frankly, I don’t have that much confidence in my fellow humans.
It has been proven to me over and over again how good and helpful and loving people can be. But not everyone fears this threat, and not everyone cares who lives or dies. And that has, and will continue, to kill us.
Death is not an ending, but a beginning. I have had new beginnings several times over my forty years, but I am not ready for this one. I have more love to give, more hope to spread, and more accomplishments to complete. I am not ready to begin again. My place, for now, is on Earth. And I’d like to think I have some control over whether or not I stay. But right now, it feels like I have no control of anything.