While my and my husband’s individual and collective biological experiences with COVID 19 were harrowing, nothing really prepared us for the psychological and spiritual difficulties we faced.
When I say nothing, I mean nothing. I have been a psychotherapist for 20 years. We have been people of faith nearly our whole lives. We love God and believe wholeheartedly in His goodness, grace, and mercy. But NONE of that prepared us for the emotional, psychological, and spiritual warfare that ravaged our souls and minds.
When we first started feeling COVID symptoms, we were optimistic. It felt like the flu and we thought surely we would be well soon enough. But as hours turned into days, and days turned into weeks, we started losing hope.
I am not being overly dramatic. I am being quite candid about our feelings. We were praying, all day, every day. We were asking our friends and family to pray for us; we believe in the power of prayer. Our prayers of healing, however, turned into “Lord, I can’t take any more pain, just take me,” around day 10 or so. Imagine experiencing chills, fevers, body aches, problems breathing, loss of taste, smell and appetite, extreme fatigue….all at the same time…..for days on end. Our psychological and spiritual resolve began to dwindle.
One day, in the midst of our physical pain, Paul and I made a decision.
We lie in bed and held hands. “What are the details again?” I asked P. We both labored for breath. At the time, we weren’t aware Paul’s lungs were slowly filling with fluid. Our minds had all but acquiesced. We were not going to make it. We had to make sure our affairs were in order.
Have you ever been so sick you thought you were going to die? That’s where Paul and I were on that day. We reviewed insurance information. Then the thought hit both of us at the same time: we had planned for either one of us passing, but never thought what would happen to our children if BOTH of us passed at the same time.
A short while later, I talked with my mom and she assured me she would make sure Moo went to school everyday and Aaron went to work and ran the household. But I knew I needed a “details” person. I sent my younger brother, Dexter, a detailed text, explaining everything I needed him to do if both Paul and I died at the same time, from the funeral arrangements, to Moo and college, to Aaron and household and banking affairs. Dexter responded in typical military fashion (he’s a retired army officer), “On my life, yes!”
A couple of days later, I lie in bed, thinking about our sons. “Are they ready for life without us?” I wondered to myself. I immediately became fretful. Gone was the “keep pushing, God got us” KP that folks know. This was little Keischa: afraid, doubtful, wondering if our kids would be ok without their parent’s presence. Aaron having autism and Moo having ADHD had me, in that moment, afraid for their safety and future. They are, after all, young Black men in America. Moo knocked on our bedroom door a short while later and asked if we needed anything. I gathered what little strength I had and walked the short path from my bed to the door. I talked to Moo through the door.
“I’m sorry Moo,” I told him with a sadness that only a mother could feel. “I didn’t prepare you and Aaron for life without me. Please forgive me.”
Moo being the gregarious guy he is, answered as only he could, “Ma, we’re gonna be fine. Me and Aaron will always look out for each other. You and Daddy taught us that. Now, do you need anything?” I could hear his smile through the door. They continued to care for us and our household: grocery shopping, cleaning, cooking, etc. God showed us they will be okay.
After about 14-16 days, our symptoms started easing up. But Paul had a cough that wouldn’t let up. I kept encouraging him to go to the ER. But I could see the answer in his eyes every time we had this conversation, “I don’t want to go to the hospital and be alone. I don’t want to die there alone.” I wouldn’t let up though. Every day for a week, I kept suggesting the ER every day. On Friday, Paul agreed to go to the ER on Saturday if he didn’t feel any better. I was so relieved. His breathing had become so shallow. He was so weak and haggard looking. I prayed every night before we went to sleep he would survive the night. Friday night was no different.
I promised his sister I would watch him sleep that night to make sure he made it through. Paul joked in his then raspy voice, “Lord, Ima goner! Kei is going straight to sleep!” We laughed together because I can usually get a good night’s sleep. That night, though, I did stay up and watch him a bit. I watched to make sure he was breathing. And I thought about our lives together. Thirty years is a long time to be with someone. I wasn’t ready to live without Paul. But I was afraid that time was coming sooner than later.
Paul visited the ER on Saturday. I walked in with him and was immediately told I couldn’t stay. We looked at each other, I kissed him on the forehead and we said “I love you” to each other and I left. I got in my truck and sat there for a moment. I said a prayer and sent out a group text to let everyone know what was going on. Then I went home and waited.
Doctors discovered fluid on his lungs. He was given breathing treatments and sent home. After we were well, Paul shared with me how close he was to dying: the doctors told him if he had waited 1-2 more days he would’ve died.
In the throes of COVID-19. I promised God that if He spared me, I would be a better person. I am keeping my promise. I am being more intentional about my life: my purpose, my interactions, my thoughts, and my peace. My goal is to disengage from anything and anyone that doesn’t support the promise I made to God.
Peace and Blessings,