Friday, April 24, 2020

An Imperfect Christian Mom's COVID-19 Diary #5

This has been a trying week. Last Thursday (April 16), when we FaceTimed my father-in-law, I noticed a change in him. He wasn't talking much and appeared confused. Since he mentioned to me the previous week he always seemed hungry, I thought he might be hypoglycemic. So, I contacted the Soldiers' Home.

The next day, my brother-in-law FaceTimed him and told me he seemed the same--said a word or two, but not communicating (out of it). I called the Soldiers' Home again. On Saturday, I had a long conversation with the person covering for the doctor. All his vitals were good and he was eating breakfast, but they would test him again for COVID-19 as a precaution. I felt a glimmer of hope that he just experienced a bad day or two.

As we sat down to Easter dinner Sunday afternoon (we celebrate Orthodox Easter too), we received the dreaded phone call no family wants--he is in distress. They could keep him comfortable at the Soldiers' Home or send him to the hospital. We opted for the hospital.

After not much sleep Sunday night, the phone rang Monday morning. The message held more bad news. If we wanted to see Harry, we better come now.

The man I have always joked has nine lives, left us Monday night. Having now seen how dreadful this virus is and how it ravages the body in ways I couldn't imagine, it reinforces my decision to isolate ourselves as much as possible.

We are devastated at the unexpected loss of a man who meant the world to us. To add to our grief, we couldn't invite family or friends to share in today's funeral service. A man who was so well-loved deserved better. That room would have been filled with people under normal circumstances.

I'm tired of navigating this new normal. I couldn't even hug my mother-in-law today, because now that it has been confirmed Harry died of COVID-19, my husband and I have been exposed. Though totally suited up in all kinds of PPE when we visited him in the hospital, we must protect our loved ones. I wouldn't give up that short time we had with Harry before he passed, but I don't even want to go out to the grocery store or pick up take out for the next 14 days.

When we picked up Harry's belongings from the Soldiers' Home yesterday, we got a bunch of boxes of stuff packed up by the National Guard. We had to sift through those belongings and sign some form stating we had everything. Do we really? I don't know. It seems ridiculous they wanted me to riffle through the belongings of a man who had the virus. But, it's nice of them to give you some silly piece of paper telling you how to handle that possibly contaminated stuff once you get it home (don't think they need more liability right now).

My father-in-law was the 63rd resident of the Soldiers' Home in Holyoke to die of COVID-19. As of today, that number is up to 73. When will it end?

The only way in which I can process this loss of life is to know that these veterans are no longer held hostage by the confines of an earthly body. There is no more sorrow and no more pain for them. The Parkinson's disease that left Harry unable to walk or write and impacted his ability to speak no longer plagues him. He is free from the pain of arthritis. He celebrates now with his father and mother and other friends and family who have gone before him. And, I am confident we will meet again one day.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” - John 14:1-3

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