Fathom Mag

Love, E.M. Welcher

Her final days were isolated.

Published on:
March 26, 2020
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3 min.
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Social distancing isn’t bothering me one bit. I already lived like this from 2012-2014. My first wife, Danielle, was resplendent, and had lymphoma, and leukemia. Between blood cancer, the chemo, and radiation to treat the dread cancer, she was immunocompromised to the extreme. The white coats ordained that anytime she ran a fever we would be in the hospital until she could go a solid 24 hours without a high temperature. We spent many 2-3 week stints on the cancer ward at the University Of Nebraska Medical Center. You had to be buzzed on to that floor. That’s how seriously they took germs there. They didn’t want random people just wandering through hallways populated with immunocompromised people. Visitors who hadn’t gotten the flu shot were discouraged from visiting. But if they did visit, they had to wear masks, gloves, and a gown. People would complain about how hot they got in that germ prevention cocoon, all designed to contain the death they carried within their meat-suits. 

Every smile takes its pound of flesh.

I am disturbed by people downplaying COVID-19 by comparing it to the flu. People don’t even take the flu seriously enough. I’m not disturbed. I’m somewhere between mad, and sad, and mildly disgusted over let’s-play-fiddles-while-the-world-burns. 

See, people don’t believe in the flu. Not really. At least not enough to get a flu shot. Isn’t it dreadful that the thing that has brought together the science loving secular, and the invisible loving faithful, is their mutual disdain for the science of the rather invisible epidemiology? There are people out there who think I’m silly for believing in an invisible Triune God who raises the dead. Who don’t believe the common cold is deadly enough to forego a handshake or a snotty hug for the benefit of somebody else dwelling in an entirely different half-life. Forget about staying at home. 

Danielle loved people. Her final days were isolated. If I look fine, know that I feel deeply but have painstakingly built this façade out of cardboard and paper mache. When you lose everything, sometimes you choose to rebuild, and sometimes you just fade away in the wreckage of what was once everything. If you rebuild a smile here and there, others may envy you. Little do they know every smile from that day forward is a hard fought victory. Every smile takes its pound of flesh.

I try not to go back there, to that particular hospital, if I can help it.

I try not to go back there, to that particular hospital, if I can help it. On sad days my pastoral duties require it. I’ll stop in the same chapel I spent hours in crying out to God, and I’ll dip my fingers in holy water, trace the sign of the cross on my world-weary brow. But I know deep down they should have bricked up that floor, bricked it up and built a shrine and, in hushed tones alone, ventured to furtively speak of how on May 3rd 2014 all the light and breath went out of the world the hour she breathed her final labored breath. Sorry, is this too melodramatic? We’re all broken and limping here on Animal Farm, some are just a bit more broken and limping. We all recognize brokenness is currency now, so we recognize both that pain isn’t a pissing contest, but that some are a bit more of the thing we all rubberneck to gawk at in abject horror. 

I hear some Buffetts, from that family of money and Omaha fame, built a new cancer center. I don’t want to go there either. 

You gotta wonder how it is in an age where they’ve plastered the mantra “Be Kind” on every surface that people refuse to kenosis themselves enough to learn the value of loneliness for the sake of stopping a pandemic. I say kenosis because we’re all making ourselves little gods while denying the notion of God Himself. Our secular world has distilled the unfathomable depths of Christ into merely “Be Kind” and if our secular society has taken God’s throne for themselves then they have forgotten the price of being God is the cross, after all, true love, or shall we say, kindness, is always sacrificial. 

As for the Church, I don’t have the wherewithal to get into all that mess. There’s an old lady across the street in every flyover town USA who loves the liturgy of the homecoming parade and thinks every Church in town should leave the lights on all night because the stained glass is pretty on the outside at night and pretty on the inside during the day, but she ain’t ever going to darken the door of the Church. All I know is being the light of the world ain’t free. You’re either paying the power company or burning at the stake. 

Secular or churchly, we’ve been waiting for this moment all our lives. Our culture has become a pack of hyenas, jumping on everybody else’s back, demanding they do something about whatever the latest thing is that has our collective fur and ire up in a hissy fit. Stopping COVID-19 is something everybody has a part in. The blame game doesn’t work when we’re all responsible for social distancing. 

All this to say, I love you all so much, but you won’t be smelling my copious cologne anytime soon. 


E.M. Welcher 

Evan Welcher
Evan Welcher is the senior pastor of Vine Street Bible Church in Glenwood, Iowa. After losing his wife to cancer, Evan wrote the book Resplendent Bride, chronicling the love and loss of his first marriage. He now lives with his wife, Rachel Welcher, and their dog, Frank, in a house on a hill. His favorite color is darkness. You can follow him on Twitter @evanwelcher.

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