By LUCILLE SIDER
Twelve days ago, I told my friend Barbara, “I am so blessed. I know no one who has had COVID—and certainly no one who has died from it.”
Then, 11 days ago, I learned that Brittany, a 27-year-old friend had died from pneumonia and COVID. And David, age 75, had died from COVID in an absolutely heartbreaking story. Refusing to be vaccinated, David and his wife Rita also avoided medical care. Their children who lived far away begged Rita to get him to an emergency room. They called an emergency van to take him—but Rita refused to let him go. David died that night.
I was reeling. I knew David from long ago and I am very close to his daughter, age 50.
Ten days ago: I learned that I had COVID. I was scheduled for minor surgery and the COVID test was simply the ordinary precaution in such situations.
I was hit with extreme fatigue, sore throat and other symptoms—and panicked. More than the symptoms, I panicked because I am an extrovert who needs lots of contact with other people to maintain my wellbeing.
For three days, however, I slept most of the time—except for the time I spent virtually with my friend Frank, who I have written about in earlier columns. We share morning meditation, which continued to be grounding for me. We read scripture and other sacred readings. We pray for our loved ones and for the world. Giving our worries to God frees us to carry on the work we are called to do.
I told my Facebook friends that I had COVID and they surrounded me with love. They called. They wrote to me. I heard from people I hardly knew. I felt so blessed. So grateful.
Then, I made two pumpkin pies and not just any pumpkin pies. Mennonite pumpkin pies. The pie I grew up with. The Mennonite recipe is lighter compared with the typical, fairly dense pumpkin pies that are so common across the country. My recipe also has a distinctive blend of those spices we all love: ginger, cinnamon and cloves—just enough to truly taste them but not too much to overshadow the pumpkin.
As always, I bought whipped cream for the top of the pie, the kind that comes in the can. I loaded each piece of pie with at least a cup of whipped cream. It was heavenly!
For two and a half days I ate pie for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I know Frank loves this pie and considered giving him a few pieces—but I must admit: I really wanted it all for myself. I justified my decision by speculating that my pie could possibly pass along COVID germs. I later confessed my greed to Frank and promised to make pumpkin pie for him when I am well.
Finally, I regained just enough strength to care for my plants, which I also have written about in earlier columns. And, yes, the giant coleus did survive. My plants bring me such deep joy. When I walk into my living room garden each morning, I am greeted with a multi-colored garden of all different stripes and colors—red, orange, yellow, green, brown and pink. They are beautiful, they are easy to care for and they grow so quickly. If given a good amount of water, fertilizer and sunshine, they just take off and grow right before your eyes!
But COVID is a relentless predator. Frank did get COVID, too—truly terrifying news. Frank has diabetes and recently recovered from brain cancer.
The good news was that Frank had a very light case. He had mainly fatigue so he slept most of the time. We were too tired to cook, so had lots of carry-ins.
On the last day of my isolation I remembered a prayer we had recently read. It gave me hope in those moments that I feared death for myself and for others:
“Lord, you have conquered death.
You have gone down to the depths of Shoel and risen again to life.
Help us to remember as we suffer with you that we will rise with you to a life that never ends.
From Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals, by Shane Claiborne and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove.
Care to Read More?
Lucille Sider inspires readers nationwide with Light Shines in the Darkness, her memoir about spiritual resilience in the aftermath of life-shattering trauma. Now, she is publishing a series of columns about the many ways men and women find themselves confronting trauma every day. Here are some of her earlier columns:
- Her first story was The Perfect House.
- Then, All Manner of Things Shall Be Well.
- Taking on cancer ‘this step, each step’
- Knitting Our Lives Together
- Finding Resilience in the Midst of Winter Blues
- Do you have an animal friend in your life? They can help you make even more friends!
- Lucille Sider Shares a Creative Coleus Christmas wit her Community