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  • Reverend James Squire


I am writing this blog fourteen days after taking my son to a train station to return to New York to continue to edit the movie he directed. I had gone on a challenging run earlier in the day.

When I returned from dropping him off at the train, I felt that something was wrong, and I had never experienced anything like it before. We had out of town guests for the weekend as N. C. State’s women’s basketball team was playing Connecticut as part of March Madness.

Before spending any time with the guests, I tested positive for Covid. I was in disbelief as I had gotten all the vaccinations including the booster and was taking my health for granted but masking indoors. We had to change of plans and told the guests that they would have to leave for their protection and why.

Expectations are important components in living our lives so going by the CDC expectations now that I had the disease break through, the nature of the illness would be mild. Nothing could be further from the reality that I was experiencing. I was about as sick as I have been at any point in my life because of the respiratory symptoms of the current subvariant of Covid which is BA.2 or as a friend calls it Bad Ass 2. This variant represents 75 % of the cases in the U.S. and is the dominant subvariant taking hold in Europe. It is also highly transmissible and packs a punch. My doctor prescribed an anti-viral which did very little to stop the increasing severity of the progress of the disease. Dying by lack of air is the number one way that people choose that they don’t want to die. I know this because we researched this issue when I was covering euthanasia in Ethics class.

One of my life lessons is that “all of life is to be enjoyed or learned from.” Covid was not a welcomed teacher. So, what did I learn in the midst of a disease that held me hostage from experiencing joy and hope? Covid had underscored that I never have liked being put in a passive position causing me to be a spectator with an enemy that was attacking me. I began to see as well how people could be frightened when they get that test result back that signals a serious disease. I already knew that experience.

I am blessed to have many doctors who are also friends. When I was asking a particular doctor who asked the head of the infectious disease department in a hospital about the truth about Covid, he indicated that you are getting the party line of what to expect, including that if you are fully vaccinated and have a booster shot, your disease will be mild. They forget to also say that everybody is an individual and everyone’s experience is different. They touch on what they know based on science but not what they don’t know which is more in keeping with reality. We don’t even know what we don’t know because of the mutations and subvariants. In essence, life is unpredictable and very unfair. That I knew already, but I still wanted more data to give me more control over this strange new illness and more specifically the answer to the question of when was I not contagious. I had already informed people that I was with before getting the diagnosis.

What was I grateful for in this moment? I have a great group of physicians that I can contact, and more importantly, my wife is a patient highly credentialed nurse who always puts herself second to me. Faith usually kicks in during the worst of times and that was true for me as well.

I am grateful that I have the tools to get through Covid if I can reach down and get them. “If” is the big word there. Think temporary when it feels permanent. Know who I am and where I am going. What is my purpose? Reach out to others in need when the illness screams that it surely should be all about me. Think and pray “we.”

Being quarantined in a room for a week with CNN as my only constant companion reminded me that there was no comparison between what I was experiencing and what the Ukrainian people were going through in various shelters underground in constant danger of immediate death from the sky or from a soldier’s gun. Who would not be inspired by the Ukrainian people and their leader? All of this coupled with the terror of war crimes surrounding them and creeping into every pore of their existence. They could see fear and courage all around them 24/7.

Then there was the cognitive dissonance of those who fled and would endure any hardship to get out of Ukraine returning to Ukraine even in the midst of war because they wanted to go home to touch the soil and to attempt to reconnect with loved ones. The genocide that occurred reminded us of the worst of human desires housed in the monster of Putin and the monster of Trump wanting in this moment of bravery displayed his cowardice as he wanted one more thing from Putin to feed his own narcissism regarding Biden’s family. Meanwhile, Putin just wants more, and that more is beyond Ukraine. The Ukrainian news took me from me to we.

During the quarantine when I was struggling with Covid, I thought of my father. You know the story. It is part of my DNA as present as my height and eye color. He was simple man with a sixth- grade education who had a crippling stroke when I was in tenth grade. After that he couldn’t speak, couldn’t move, couldn’t walk. One year later after spending a year working out with my weights, with me assisting him from the basement to the second floor wiping the sweat off his body, I knew the answer to how to move forward. He whispered it in my ear by his actions. Finally, he could say “my pipe (he smoked a pipe) instead of me pipe,” and his gait would always have him drag one foot behind the other one for the rest of his life. He proudly walked to work that day of his return. I watched him until he was over the hill to be a fish man because he could no longer hold the butcher’s knife steady with people talking in earshot or mostly behind his back about his “fall from the best to the worse” as what he now did in working class grocery store society.

Before I went to bed, I would always check on him and would from time to time catch him on his knees next to his bed praying. He looked like a child. When I asked him what he prayed for without looking up he said, “You mostly!”

Yes, I know what I must do. I know what I must be, no matter what such a worthy opponent as Covid would seek to have me abandon hope and think that this experience is permanent.

Actions speak louder than words. That is why the expression, “Preach the Gospel. Use words, if necessary,” has so much merit to me. Like our attitude toward Putin to only listen to his actions and not his words are what counts. What people do and not what they say has always been part of my DNA as well. I have my father to thank for that.

So, mask up when indoors! This version of Covid is no joke! I am still making my way forward.

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