My husband, Everett, was gasping for breath when he woke me up a little past 3 a.m. 

I’d been taking care of him for months as he went through radiation, surgeries and daily hyperbaric oxygen treatments for a huge wound on his scalp that wasn’t healing. But this was different. 

I called 911, turned on the porch light—and passed out cold.

My next memory was seeing emergency medical technicians crowding into our small bedroom, tending to my husband. I was somewhat awake by then, but I have no recollection of Everett being placed into the waiting ambulance. I don’t remember hugging him or even saying goodbye, and that thought still haunts me. 

A curious neighbour had seen the flashing lights of the ambulance and came by to see what was happening. She told me later that she watched Everett being loaded into the ambulance and saw me standing in the doorway. When I collapsed again, she rushed to the ambulance to tell the driver that I needed their help.

My memory is totally blank from the time I passed out the second time. Another ambulance was summoned, and the next thing I recall was a nurse telling me I was in the emergency room and would be getting a test for COVID.

My test was positive, and so was my husband’s. I was moved to an isolation room, and Everett was put into an intensive care unit. He passed away a week later. 

From Hospital to Home

After 10 days in isolation, almost all of it in bed, I was still barely aware of my surroundings and far too weak to take care of myself. 

My daughter, Karen, offered to take me home after Everett’s death, and hospital officials agreed after she said she would stay with me for as long as it was necessary. It turned out to be a full three weeks before I could live on my own.

I was so weak at first that she had to help me do the simplest things, such as getting out of bed and getting dressed. We both whooped for joy the first morning I was strong enough to manoeuvre a walker down the hall and into the kitchen for a cup of coffee. Karen was so excited about my progress that she posted a picture of it on Facebook that day!

Months later, I still struggled with post-COVID symptoms—hair loss, unsteadiness, fatigue and terrible brain fog.

Living Proof

More than a year has passed, and most of my symptoms are gone now, though family members still check in on me and offer to help with household chores. My hair has grown back, and I have less fatigue and brain fog. Intermittent tears have replaced the relentless days and nights of sobbing, but I still grieve the loss of my precious husband.

Yet, despite the challenges and pain of the past year, I know that God has been with me through it all. That’s especially obvious when I look back on the ways He orchestrated things so that special people were in place at just the right time when I needed them.

I think about my neighbour and wonder what might have happened if she hadn’t seen the ambulance or hadn’t checked to see what was going on. I live in Arizona, in a neighbourhood where “snowbird” residents from Canada avoid harsh winters and return home by May to avoid our blistering summers.

It was June, and the snowbirds had long since gone back north. Every home that was close to mine was empty. My inquisitive neighbour lived at the far end of my street. 

"I still grieve the loss of my precious husband." JOYCE STARR MACIAS

What if she hadn’t seen the ambulance lights and hadn’t walked up to see what was going on? Who knows how long I might have lain on the floor, sick and unattended? It might have been hours or longer before anyone stopped by to see why I wasn’t answering phone calls or texts.

What if my daughter hadn’t been available to move into my home to take care of me? She and her husband had lived in Asia as missionaries for years before their recent retirement. They had moved back to Arizona and were living only a few minutes away from me. 

It was obvious to me that God provided what I needed just when I needed it. I was desperately in need of help, and I received it. 

But I’m not surprised. The Bible contains many verses about God’s willingness to hold us close in frightening times of need. One of them is found in Isaiah 41:10, which says: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am Your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

I am living proof that God kept that promise. And I will be forever grateful that He strengthened me and helped me when I needed it most.

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