Love in the time of coronavirus
4:00 a.m. or so.
Another worry-filled day approaching.
As I continue to rest in my warm, comfortable bed I begin my ritual of praying for my kids, grandkids. When I get to my Parkinson’s list I get hung up thinking about Tom and his wife Jeanie*. I finally get up, let the dogs out, let the dogs in, feed the dogs. But I cannot shake away my thoughts about Tom. About Jeanie.
I recall that Jeanie has started an email distribution to her family about Tom’s progress. Even though I am not a family member, I decide to text her a short message to be added to the list.
Text message from Steve to Jeanie:
Hi Jeanie. Please add me to the email list for Tom. Thank you.
Within minutes she replies:
It is going to be tough with the condition I mention below in the message I sent to Tom’s family. One of Tom’s brothers will be back in Washington on Saturday to help me. We need to wear protective gear for 14 days. Do you happen to know where I can get N95 masks? And eye protectors? With the hospital decision I only have today to find these.
What do I say to her? What can I do? She needs these today! I scurry to my garage to grab the old box of N95 masks that I have had for a long time. I try one on. The rubber band breaks. I am embarrassed. All I can offer is four defective masks.
As I am standing in the garage, I recall the passage in Matthew 14 about the feeding of the five thousand. I wonder if any of the fishes that the boy offered to Jesus were defective. Did Jesus use perfect fishes to feed the thousands or were they imperfect? Jesus said to the disciples to bring the fish and loaves of bread to him. He told them to bring what they had in hand. Clearly I am to bring what I have in hand, too. I pause. I pray.
Lord, use these defective masks to show your love, your compassion, to Jeanie and Tom.
I go to my desk to consider—now what do I do? Do any stores have masks or eye protectors? Where do I go to buy them? I realize that, while I have the money, there is no place to buy them.
Then a plan starts to take shape in my mind. I can text out a message to my small network of friends in the local area. People close by. People to whom I can drive, get the items, and deliver to Jeanie today.
Then the doubts start to flood in. What would I write to them? Would anyone reply? Should I let Jeanie know what I am doing? I do not want to be embarrassed. I do not want to fail. Then I am stopped short: My thoughts are centered on I, I, I. It is not about me and what “I” can do. It is about Jeanie and Tom. It is about Jesus showing his love for them.
Not knowing what is going to happen next, I text a message to Jeanie:
I do not know where there are any masks or eye protectors. I will immediately reach out to people I know and report back if any are available.
Now I am committed. I will write something. I write. I tear it up. I write again. I tear it up again. I am in a trap. I am fearful of failing. Finally I pray, and the Lord deals with my fears. I am to write a message, send it out, then get prepared to move on out when the first person offers anything.
I send this text message out to 15 people in the surrounding area:
Need help to find N95 masks and Eye Protectors for Tom & Jeanie. If you know where N95 masks & Eye Protectors can be found, contact me, Steve Yates. I will pick them up and deliver to their home today. The situation: Tom was a patient at Life Care Center. He came down with the COVID-19 virus and was sent to the hospital. He has sufficiently recovered to be released tomorrow (Thursday). He can go home if his wife Jeanie can assure the hospital she has the masks and eye protectors for two people for 14 days. Jeanie is asking for help to get the supplies today so she can bring Tom home tomorrow. Any help is much appreciated.
Almost immediately, my daughter offers a new kit with masks and goggles. I start the car and drive to her house. Along the way, my phone pings with messages. The Lord is moving people’s hearts.
I go to John’s home to pick up six new N95 masks. He offers to drive to Bellevue to get a few more if needed. I am thankful but think we will have enough. John is always quick to help. Everyone needs a John in their lives.
I’m off to Wayne’s home. He gives N95 masks, other masks, goggles. His enthusiastic desire to help touches my heart.
Robert calls from Woodinville to report that McClendon’s and Home Depot do not have any items. Others contact me. Give support. Give advice.
I am sitting in my car at Safeway. I call Jeanie to let her know what I have in hand. Twelve masks, seven goggles, and a box of nitrile gloves. She is overwhelmed. I ask if there is anything from Safeway she needs. She asks for Gatorade in small bottles for Tom. He loves Gatorade. So I pick up some blue, red, and green bottles. I head to the self-checkout to minimize personal contact. And off to Jeanie’s I go.
On the drive to Jeanie’s house, my thoughts turn dark and troubling. I begin to grasp the problem she is facing. She stated in her message earlier today, “One of Tom’s brothers will be back in Washington on Saturday to help me.” The masks and eye protection are one matter. A bigger problem looms over her. Tom is coming home Thursday. Four weeks ago, he had hip surgery. Since then he has had very little, if any, physical therapy to regain his strength and mobility. His brother will not arrive to help Jeanie until Saturday. There are no nurses available to help Jeanie on Thursday and Friday. She is all alone to care for Tom in his weakened state.
My thoughts flash back to the time I was caring for my wife, Cheryl, when she was bedridden. How difficult it was to get her to the bathroom and back to bed. I cannot imagine how Jeanie is going to handle it. I pray.
I arrive at Jeanie’s home. I place the masks, goggles, gloves, and Gatorade on a bench near her front door. I knock. No one comes. I am beginning to worry and to wonder. Then the door bursts open. Jeanie was on the phone with the hospital and could not come to the door. She says it was a miracle. The hospital is keeping Tom until Saturday, and his brother will be here in time to help.
Jeanie is so happy! I’m so happy, too.
We chat for a moment. She is so deeply thankful for the items. I mention that the items may be contaminated. You never know.
For weeks, Jeanie has been vigilant in her self-quarantine. She must be well for Tom to come home. She says that she doesn’t even pick up the mail when it is delivered. She waits until the next day.
As I drive away, I have to pull over to the side of the road and park. I am flooded with emotion. I just witnessed the love of Jesus. The compassion of Jesus. The care from Jesus.
Thank you Lord Jesus.
Thank you Lord Jesus.
Thank you Lord Jesus.
*Names have been changed.
In the last third of his life, Steve desires to walk faithfully with Jesus and to show love to his three children, ten grandchildren, their spouses, and all whom he meets. Steve is beginning to understand that, as he grows older, his dignity comes from remaining faithful to who he truly is in the midst of the harsh realities of life.
Thank you Steve for sharing how God used you and then blessed you with witnessing how He steps in to care for your friend. My sisters made about 30 masks today to share with neighbors . My first thought as a nurse is they aren’t to give full protection. Then “she has done what she could” to love her neighbor. I’m struggling with doubts of what this crisis means and already feel isolated. I love people and talking and interacting with strangers.praying for peace in my heart. I know God is not surprised by all this but I am- nothing like it in my 68 years. Sara
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Thank you. Thank you. Thank you…Signed Leaking With Gratitude
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This reminds us that it is small gestures and giving what we can that yield far more than a perfect offering. “Ring the bells you still can ring, forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything; that’s how the light gets in.” -Leonard Cohen