2020 the year when pigs fly and hell freezes over.
Covid has taken its toll on so many and continues to unleash its fury. Covid hasn’t affected me us much as it has on others, but as of late it has hit the homefront. I have two friends who got it. One of which sadly passed away over the weekend. I cannot give Covid all the credit with this one, like we’ve all seen the underlying health issues is where Covid likes to target.
I normally write about my own health and my many fads with eating poorly or eating well. But this blog post requires more, because life is real. I have tried to stay away from the negativity of this year. It’s been such a difficult year and once we see a little glimmer of hope we are hit again. Out of my grieving, I’ve been wanting to post the hashtag 2020 sucks (#2020sucks) and Screw Covid! but I haven’t and probably won’t. I had a period of my life when I first started using Social Media, I treated it as an overly personal journal post that should have been kept to myself. I miss MySpace!
Why is it when people we love or care about get sick, we take life more serious or when life is taken away or we had a “close call”? I’ve been in a mental fog and shock of my friends’ death. We knew if he were to get Covid it would be detrimental to his health. He was already fighting with dialysis and diabetes. He followed the rules, he wore a mask, he stayed home and sanitized.
The void of not being able to say a simple, goodbye. The emptiness of words unsaid are haunting. My friend spiraled so quickly that I don’t think He even had a chance to communicate any last words but to ask for Prayer. I think that was one of our last text messages. The responses grew slower and the time between each one drew out to a couple of hours and then to a whole day. By Wednesday of the week he died I had a gut wrenching feeling something was wrong.
Empty responses from text messages, no read notifications, no Facebook posts… My heart was in knots on Wednesday, many messages unread sat lingering in my sent section of my cell phone, like a blank page with the cursor blinking. Deep down I felt like this was it, this is real life…He might be gone. 44 years old isn’t very old and isn’t very young. I received a few messages from another friend who had contact with his sister with updates. They would be good and then bad. Finally by Saturday afternoon a call came in, they said his heart stopped earlier that afternoon and they brought him back. He had on his medical notes that he didn’t want to be resuscitated. So I knew if he had any more complications it would be bad. It was over.
Within an hour of receiving this news another call came in. I thought maybe it was another friend sharing the same news, but it wasn’t. This was the call that said he was gone. I remember this feeling, this moment when time stands still and your heart and your mind go two different directions. It reminds me of the time in 2017 when my Father in law died. A simple head nod signaling from a phone call stating he was gone brought me back to the feeling of nothingness.
I’d like to say I am not much of crier. But It comes usually after many life blows and when I can’t contain it any longer. I didn’t cry. I shared the news with my wife right away and she cried. My daughter cried in her room mainly because He was missing Christmas. I love the innocence of my daughter’s perspective, she tried hard to be sensitive to our hurt and excused herself to her room. I tried sleeping that night, but to no avail my mind was flooding with disbelief just like the night my Father in law passed away a couple years back. No chance for goodbyes. Just gone. We knew deep down this was a possibility, he could die from this. Then it actually happened.
My wife and I help our church with the time of worship (Music), and we had to do the music the next day. I got to church ahead of her to help set up since we are leasing another church while our church goes through renovations. So, we are technically a mobile church. It was hard to be there, grief comes and goes at weird times. I had a few volunteers express their condolences which is greatly appreciated but part of me didn’t know what to say back. An inner struggle of responses and disbelief still lingering, I let out a small and delayed Thank you. Is that proper? I think it is, I sometimes hesitate responses, like when someone wishes me Happy Birthday, I always want to reply with, “Right back at you!’ or “You too!”. I really wanted to be sad or mad and not say anything but I’m too nice of a guy to be that way.
My friend also helped with the Audio at the church. He would normally be there with me getting the audio equipment ready along side me. This guy was the Mozart of audio engineering and the Michael Jordan of drumming, I knew if he was on the sound board or drums I didn’t need to worry about anything but what I needed to do. We’ve worked together in music for 12 years. I was so used to seeing him that I kept waiting for him to come in. I of course knew he wouldn’t be there. My wife came in a few minutes later to help and to check on me. She wanted to show her support. At this time I hadn’t cried yet. She asked me how things were going and I said, “Good, I’m just missing my main guy.” My poor wife started crying right when I said that and had to leave the room.
We continued on with our sound check and man it was so hard. I could barely sing a word and the emotions would well up. I kept it together somewhat. We were supposed to sing a Christmas carol but I wasn’t in the mood, I cut it right before service. I couldn’t sing about joy and happiness when my heart was not feeling the same thing. We did 3 songs and by the end of the third one I was spent. I usually close out our time of music with a prayer but I couldn’t speak. All I could do was cry. Big teardrops rolling down that I had to grab before they fell on my guitar, Sounds like a song I’ve heard before… My wife kind of stood there waiting to see if I could pull it together but she stepped in and closed us out.
This blog post keeps getting longer and longer and I have so much to say but I can’t seem to find a place to stop. Or know how to end well. A few things I’ve learned through this year, this crazy mask wearing, social distancing, toilet paper hoarding, and political year is this. Life is precious. We are all worthy of a good life. We all need love. We all need Hope. We all need something more. We could all use some Faith.
This Holiday season is a joyous celebration for some and for others it’s a reminder of pain. I encourage you to take time this last month of 2020 and reach out to your loved ones, your neighbor and the toilet paper hoarders in line at the box store with a simple gesture of Hope, Love, Peace and Goodwill. You never know the hell or heartache they are walking through. You might just be the The Hope, Love, Peace, Faith, and Joy they need.
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year to you, Thanks for reading.
Original blog by Kurt Neil