This year there was no quiet coffee in the peace of the Christmas morning as everyone sleeps. This almost holy time for me didn’t exist this year, and neither did any semblance of Christmas that we love. Things can always be worse, but this year, they certainly could have been better. However, during times of tragedy, God doesn’t run or hide; he shows up. When we ask him, he strengthens us, comforts us, and gives us eyes to see the blessings within any tragedy. The next paragraph lists a series of events in my family that recently happened. They are heartbreaking, unfair, and tragic. In all of my weaknesses, God was strong in me. He gave my family peace. He gave us clear decisiveness, and we were all in one accord, of one mind; we knew my dad’s wishes.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”2 Corinthians 12:9
Series of Unfortunate Events
On December 11th, my mom got diagnosed with covid. I came to take care of her. I stayed in my motorhome in her driveway. I masked up and gloved and kept my distance. On December 12th, my dad lost his ability to walk, sit up, and clearly speak; we thought he had a stroke. Mom was so weak; she could hardly get out of bed. I moved into the house. Dad was taken to the hospital by ambulance. The test results revealed that dad didn’t have a stroke but a severe reaction to covid. He lost all ability he had, even to eat. He was completely disoriented, and my dad was the fighter he was; he became combative, fighting to get out. It was complicated by the fact that he was a covid patient. No one he knew could see him or talk to him, and he kept fighting to get out. It all became worse the longer he laid in the hospital.
The Other Two
I tested negative for covid on December 16, but Mom’s condition worsened. She entered the hospital on December 18th with low oxygen levels, fighting to breathe. I was thankful they gave her Remdesivir and Convalescent plasma with a series of vitamins and oxygen. She fought hard to be out by Christmas, as we all prayed that dad would survive long enough for mom to be in the comfort of home before he passed. I tested again and was positive for covid on December 23rd. Mom came home on December 24th, and dad went to heaven on the 26th. I haven’t seen my husband and son and his wife since December 11, and I won’t get to be with them for another two weeks. Debby and Josh will be here by then. I miss my hubby, my poodle Presley, my house, and my ability to shower without struggling for breath. I am, however, very thankful that I can be here for my mom.
Terrible things happen in life, but it doesn’t mean that God is angry or making bad things happen. Sometimes, hard things happen all at once, or in an overwhelming way, beyond what we can handle. We may never have the answers to “why” this side of heaven, but we can have the gift of God becoming an ever-present help in our times of trouble. I’m thankful for the assurance of peace and strength that comes when we keep lifting the situation to him. God is there with his steady, faithful peace leading and guiding us through, giving us little blessings along the way. One of the blessings I had was that I was strong, and I didn’t fear. This was because he was my refuge and strength.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present[b] help in trouble.Psalm 46:1-2
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
When the Answer is No
God doesn’t always answer, yes. When I knew that my dad would pass away, all I wanted to do was hold his hand as he passed so that he wouldn’t be alone. I fought hard for it. I went through the channels of people and finally got approval. Then on December 23rd, I was tested and diagnosed with covid, and every door closed. My dad was a covid patient in a covid ward, cared for by covid clad staff, but no matter who I spoke with, how high I went up the chain, I wasn’t allowed to hold his hand as he died because I had covid. I was angry and heartbroken but gave it to God. The more I began to feel the fatigue of the disease taxing my body, the more I became more at peace. I didn’t know how sick I was, and when I realized this, I also realized that God could be where I can’t. He can comfort dad, even if I couldn’t. In the end, God did what I couldn’t do if I was right there, gave him perfect peace.
Yesterday, my dad died surrounded on Zoom by his wife Pat, son Randy, my hubby, son-in-law Chris, his daughter-in-law (Randy’s wife) Anne, and his beloved grandkids; he left this world. We laughed, reminisced, thanked him, and played the hymn that spoke to him when he signed up for Korea. Dad had been scrappy and fighting, but a sweet peace came over him even before the heavy dose of meds that I requested. This peace was all I wanted for him. It also assured me that he was going to be undoubtedly in the arms of Jesus that day.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:7
We are thankful for the sustaining prayers and the other ways that God used people to let us know he was there. We didn’t have breakfast that morning of dad’s passing and weren’t thinking about lunch, but mom’s neighbors brought bags of Chick-fil-a at the perfect time. The delicious smell wafting around us reminded us of the need to eat to keep up our strength. It was a sign that even though we weren’t thinking of our needs, God was. He had been. My son has been going to visit my hubby each day and care for Debby’s cat we were babysitting. My daughter and son-in-law sent many naturopathic cures and green juices I’ve been craving like crazy. My hubby had my son previously dropped off protein bars, chicken soup, teas, and tv dinners. He specifically bought us really nice turkey dinner that became our Christmas dinner. My sister-in-law Lani brought us robes, sweets, ham, and poppers. Mom and I ate our Christmas dinner, popped our poppers, and wore our paper crowns. It became a celebration in the midst of tragedy. We felt blessed on Christmas Day, the eve of my dad’s passing.
casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.1 Peter 5:7
Yes, the last few weeks have been hard, and as we move into making final arrangements for dad while going through our individual covid recoveries. No matter what has happened, how tragic it felt, feeling that I wasn’t ready, I have a sense of peace that nothing in this world can touch. There is also a sense of satisfaction that covid can take a life but cannot take love, it can’t touch God’s peace, and it can’t tarnish hope. When you are at the end of your rope, family and friends step into the gap and sustain you. No matter what I experience, there’s a steady peace that surpasses any understanding that keeps our family and me as we close this chapter and open the next one without my dad.
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.2 Corinthians 10-11