I emerged out of isolation, shaky. The door that had been the barrier between me and my family was open, and every fear I had about passing COVID on to my family had already been made real. My husband’s test had come back positive that morning, and it would be a matter of time before symptoms would show up for my father-in-law and then my mother-in-law. (Somehow, the kids were spared.) We decided it would be okay for me to come out of my room after I had been isolated for a week, but instead of feeling free, I felt hesitant — perhaps even more afraid. Though my symptoms had stayed mild up to that point, there was no guarantee that it would be the same for everyone else.
I stood awkwardly in the hallway, as if needing permission to take each step toward my husband and kids. We looked at each other, not knowing how to be without being close and unsure of what was acceptable anymore. Masks covered half our faces, but I could see the uncertainty in my children’s eyes, and I felt the sharp ache of distance between us. I made my way through the living room to sit on the couch, to acclimate myself again to our home, and to drink hot tea and watch the kids play together. But it was as if I were still watching them on Facetime still, as if we were still living separate lives.
I took my mask off to take a sip of the hot tea for my aching body, when my son looked up at me and said, “Awww, I miss this part of your face,” as he pointed to his nose and mouth. We had seen each other’s full faces on Facetime, but this was different to be together and not be able to see all of each other’s faces.
At any other time, I would’ve opened my arms to him for an embrace and told him I loved him in between kisses on his head, but this time, I laughed with sad tears dripping down my face, unable to hold both the overwhelming grief and gratefulness within me.
For weeks, I held my breath, waiting for the virus to run its course through my body, my husband’s, and my in-laws’. We missed Christmas and New Year’s and a handful of birthdays. Stress and guilt and shame buzzed in my head about what I could’ve and should’ve done. Each time any of us measured our oxygen levels, everyone would pause what they were doing to watch the little red lines hopefully turn into numbers in the high 90s.
Somehow, by some miracle, each of us would make a turnaround for the better by the fourteen-day mark. I say “by some miracle” because to call it God’s grace would seem to mean that His grace wasn’t present or enough for the many who lost their lives to COVID. And how could that be true if His grace is abundant? None of it makes sense. None of it seems fair. I grieve over how many families are forever marked, forever changed because their loved ones didn’t have mild symptoms or didn’t make it.
Even now, it feels as it did that first moment I came out of isolation — shaky and fragile. I continue to hold both grief and gratitude, and some days, the tears pour out more easily than the laughter, and other days, joy is deepened by the gravity of what we’ve been through.
I’ve pleaded with God for answers to every why and how question, and I’ve struggled with the reality that some are healed and others aren’t. I’m anguished by the pain, and yet, His silence doesn’t betray distance. Instead, I feel His nearness, His grief. He is anguished too. He is pleading too. It’s as though we’re sitting side by side in the Garden of Gethsemane, crying together for another way out. We are without words, but in our weeping, we commune.
We often equate silence in response to our prayers as evidence that God is not listening, that He is not attuned to the ache of our lives. But as I’ve sat in the quiet, I wonder if His silent presence is just what we need. Instead of words, He offers us Himself — the God who understands, the God of comfort.Leave a Comment