When this pandemic began, I started sending out messages to my Facebook friends that asked, “How are you weathering this virus crisis?” I got a wide range of responses. A few just responded, “Fine. You?” Some shared concerns over loved ones on the front-lines of healthcare, food delivery, law enforcement. Others mentioned the loneliness they felt separated from friends and family. Many expressed gratitude that I reached out. They found that the connection with a virtual stranger turned friend had healing qualities. One particular connection moved me in a powerful way.
Me: Hi P, just checking in with friends and loved ones. How are you weathering the virus crisis?
P: My mother died this morning at age 92. We can’t hold a funeral because of the lock down.
Me: Oh my, I’m so sorry.
P: My church is closed. I feel so disoriented.
Me: How awful!
P: What a strange world. I am texting with a stranger on a morning like this.
Me: It is surreal. I’ve been reaching out to FB friends to offer spiritual encouragement and it is bringing me a measure of peace. My own father has cancer. I can’t see him in person because of the virus and how compromised he is on chemo.
P: I couldn’t sit with my mother. I am almost 72 and immune compromised. In real life, people would be bringing food to my house, friends and relatives gathering. This is the new normal.
Me: It’s the end of the world as we know it.
P: I am so grateful for your presence.
Me: Well, I’m glad I could be here, P.
Me: I want to send you something. Hold on.
“A Better Resurrection” by Christina Rossetti
I have no wit, no words, no tears;
My heart within me like a stone
Is numb’d too much for hopes or fears;
Look right, look left, I dwell alone;
I lift mine eyes, but dimm’d with grief
No everlasting hills I see;
My life is in the falling leaf:
O Jesus, quicken me.
My life is like a faded leaf,
My harvest dwindled to a husk:
Truly my life is void and brief
And tedious in the barren dusk;
My life is like a frozen thing,
No bud nor greenness can I see:
Yet rise it shall—the sap of Spring;
O Jesus, rise in me.
My life is like a broken bowl,
A broken bowl that cannot hold
One drop of water for my soul
Or cordial in the searching cold;
Cast in the fire the perish’d thing;
Melt and remould it, till it be
A royal cup for Him, my King:
O Jesus, drink of me.
Me: It is. Tell me about your mother.
P: A long and tortuous story. My mother was difficult and childish most of her life. She and my father met at 13, fell in love at 16 and married at 19. He was killed in an accident at 23. My mother’s parents took us in and she went back to college to finish her teaching studies. She was a teacher for about five years, but always proud if that. Remarried and stopped teaching. After that, she had one baby after another. All I can remember about her for the next 8 years is a blur of moving, babies and abuse. I wish I could tell you about her, but she was a closed person. She never told me she loved me until about 8 years ago. I have always heard that this is the worst grief to deal with, the long broken relationship.
Me: Oh, I’m so sorry. It must be so difficult to wrestle with grief in the midst of the sort of brokenness you have known.
P: I tried very hard to build a bridge back to her in the past fee years. I was her main support until last year when she became so verbally abusive toward me that I withdrew. I have not spent as much time with her in the past months because I couldn’t bear the pain. Now I feel guilty.
Me: I’m sure you did all you could.
P: No, I didn’t but decided to protect myself. Condolences are coming in and I feel like a fraud.
Me: Sometimes protecting ourselves is the best thing we can do.
P: I want to believe that.
Me: Do. Your mom wouldn’t want you to beat yourself up, would she?
Me: Well, if that’s the case, you shouldn’t give in to that desire.
P: Part of me feels I deserve it. The other knows I could never please my mother enough for her to love me.
Me: I think the thing to focus on is not what your mom would want, but what God wants. What do you think?
P: She was a broken person.
Me: Yes, God can even mend our brokenness. If not in this life…
P: God wants me to carry on to be the light of my family and put down this burden.
Me: Well, there you have it. So the million dollar question is — how do you do that?
P: I am not sure.
Me: It will take time. I will pray that you receive God’s care so you can care for yourself as you care for others. Message me anytime, Peggy. Good to connect.
P: You have been a great comfort. Thank you.
13 And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died.
15 We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the believers who have died will rise from their graves. 17 Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. 18 So encourage each other with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)