By Linda Miller
Editor’s Note: This is a precursor to a possible series of stories crafted by interviews with families who have lost a spouse or family member to the COVID-19 disease.
I entered the dimly lit intensive care room, fully gowned, gloved, and masked. Finally, after eighteen days of separation, we would be together again. Weeks of battling COVID left my body drained of natural energy. My brain felt like it was filled with cotton fuzz. Could I be in a dream? Is this really happening? How did my strong, vibrant, jokester husband succumb to this awful virus?
I quickly walked to the bed, sat on the side of it, and began crying. Conrad looked like his old self—still strong, still in control, and maybe only a few pounds lighter. But the breathing. Oh, if only he could breathe on his own without the oxygen mask. Then, we could go home together. We could do life together; reap the rewards of family, friends, ministry, and new adventures, and grow old together.
For a long minute, we looked into each other’s eyes. It just happened not planned, not forced, but a spontaneous connection of our very souls—holy moments. Neither of us spoke. We just looked. No words can convey the depths of our lives intertwined for more than a half-century–– “And the two shall become one” (Gen.2:24).
Conrad had it all planned and was completely coherent. Between oxygen intakes, he gave me instructions, “Pick up the pad and pen and write what I tell you.” I looked at the pad with his writing. “Sell the house. Ask Rod to help get it ready.” “Sell the truck.” Internally I thought, “okay, I’ll do whatever you say.” Tears filled my eyes as a sob escaped my lips. Taking the pad and pen in hand, I scribbled down notes.
Sitting on the side of the bed holding Conrad’s hand, I glanced at the bedside table. Then, I saw it, the familiar gold wedding ring, the ring Conrad never took off, the gold band representing our life together. Seeing the wedding ring on the table seemed so strange, so out of place. It should be on Conrad’s finger. Suddenly, I had a faint inkling Conrad was through. He was ready to make his journey to the Lord he loved and served for over 45 years. Our life together on earth would end, but our bond, our circle of love would continue into eternity.
The wedding ring fits loosely behind my gold filigree ring on my right hand, the one with a cross on it, a gift from Conrad. Both rings remind me, one of our lives together, the other of Conrad’s generosity. The sadness of the intensive care day is swallowed up in Christ’s victory over death. Sitting on His heavenly throne, Jesus proclaims, “Behold, I make all things new” (Rev. 21:5). My heart is comforted. I hold onto God’s promise. There will be a new day, a new day together.
Linda Ann Miller, July 15, 2021
Linda Miller is an adjunct professor at ORU, Bible teacher, former hospital chaplain, and author. She also has a daily radio show at 10:15am, titled “A Good Word for Today,” on Faith 100.3 McAlester, OK. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org