Mom of five is a coronavirus survivor, says “we found beauty in hardship”, Kari Baragrey, Johannesburg, Michigan

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I’m a mom of five, so when I got the call saying school was going to be on break because of COVID-19, I dedicated my energy to stocking up, buying extra supplies to help keep my kids entertained, and checking in with several elderly neighbors.

I was preoccupied with those things when I woke up with a headache that almost felt like a migraine.

Over the next week, I experienced many more symptoms: severe body aches, chills for several days with no fever, loss of smell and taste, dizziness, a fever, and shortness of breath.

Sunday, my fever disappeared. I thought I was getting better. But that night, it came back, and I crashed hard. Over the next several days, my symptoms worsened. My chest hurt and I couldn’t lie flat. Some days, even talking took too much breath.

One night, I woke up to my chest feeling heavy—too heavy to wake my husband for help. I wondered for the first time if I would survive.

In the darkness, I heard a song in my soul: “Way Maker, Miracle Worker, Promise Keeper, Light in the Darkness, my God, that is who you are.” Like counting sheep, it played over and over in my heart until I could sleep again.

We didn’t share with anyone the hardest struggles I had, which, looking back, is strange. Sometimes when we are deep in crisis, we lose the ability to reach out. Our fear becomes isolating and paralyzing.

COVID-19 exposed profound weaknesses but has also allowed the beauty in those around us to be on full display. My husband did a phenomenal job caring for me and the kids while working from home, but we would not have made it without our small, fierce community.

People flooded our porch with flowers, meals, birthday cakes, games, and other cheerful gifts. Due to my illness, we had to cancel our spring break trip to Florida, so our friends sprayed the snow in our front lawn with blue food coloring and stuck flamingos in the pools of blue to bring Florida to us. We found such beauty in the hardships.

My husband is a youth pastor at Gaylord Evangelical Free Church, and we’ve been members of CHM since the church offered CHM as health cost support for the church staff. When our pastor’s wife was very sick, CHM went above and beyond to help them in every detail of their journey. I knew CHM would do the same for us, and they did, sharing 100 percent of my eligible medical bills!

Through my entire COVID-19 experience, I’ve clung to God’s promise: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.”

He has not failed me.

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