(I wrote this for my daughter Susan and then read it at my son-in-law’s funeral after he passed away recently at age 40 from Covid-19.)
I’ve been thinking a lot about love and what it looks like in a family, in this family. There are many ways to express love, but these are some things that came to mind.
Love looks like a husband and daddy who would sacrifice by working long hours, sometimes weeks away from his family, so that he could provide a good living for them. I know Chris didn’t like to spend so much time away, but he was willing to do whatever was needed to support them.
Once when we were talking about spiritual things, Chris told me about his grandparents. He said whenever he went to their house, his mawmaw would always have a meal for him and a discussion about the Lord, without fail. It was one of his fondest memories. Love looks like that.
But the expression of love that touches me the most is the way my daughter walked with her husband through his journey of illness and ultimately death. Although she was afraid and hurting deeply herself, her prayer was that Chris would not feel alone, would not be afraid, and would not feel pain.
God answers prayers like that. Susan had the gift of three days and three nights with Chris in ICU after being isolated from him for weeks, only able to see him through the ICU window. The first night, Friday, he was awake all night, and he was in her words “high maintenance.” He only wanted her presence with him. He couldn’t speak but only mouth the words because of his trach, but he talked to her all night. She said she would always be thankful for it because he slept most of the time after that, opening his eyes only once on Saturday night and mouthing the words, “Why me?”
Sunday night, right before he passed away, as the monitor showed his blood pressure dropping rapidly, the ICU staff rushed in and told her if she had anything to say, to say it then. She spoke to him, and his eyes opened just a bit, and he looked at her. She told him that she loved him, not to be scared, that he was going to see his dad and his pawpaw. She told him not to worry, that she would take good care of the children, and in a blink of the eye, they would all be together again. With each statement she spoke, he nodded that he understood. And then Chris was in the arms of Jesus, having heard in his last moments Susan’s voice, the most precious sound to him.
I would like to say to my daughter, “Susan, you have walked through this trial well. I am in awe of your strength and how you put your own pain aside, desperately wanting Chris to feel love and comfort. This is what love looks like. When we love in this way, we touch the Divine. The days ahead won’t be easy, but the same God who carried you through this hard journey will be faithful to be with you. He will give you the grace to walk through them, one day at a time. God has already seen this day, and He still has a plan for your family. This I know. God’s love never fails.”