Michigan Woman’s Journey From Grieving And Isolation To Vaccination And Family Reunion
Michigan has lost more than 21,000 people to COVID-19.
Mable Lynch, a praying woman from Pontiac, seems to bear the brunt of all these losses.
She has been in mourning since March 2020, when her son, Darryl Lynch, died after contracting the coronavirus at the start of the pandemic.
Like so many others in Michigan, she has spent months crying in virtual isolation, tracking the spread of the virus and trying to find ways to carefully connect with her family.
Lynch, 72, struggled to decide whether to get the vaccine. In the end, the urge to reunite with his family safely outweighed his apprehension.
“There is so much sadness,” Lynch said.
“I feel like I’m crying for the world. We are all so hurt. It’s such a void, I mean broken hearts. I know I can’t even imagine the sadness in the world for a loved one who isn’t here this year. They have been here for 50 years, 40 years or 20 years. You establish a way of doing things and now that person isn’t even there. It’s such a void, such a hurtful thing.
She described the day her son died as the saddest of her life.
“I thought about Jesus, how he got to the crossroads, and I said, ‘Lord, don’t take my son. Take me. It was a time when I would have given my life just so my son could live. Lynch said.
Darryl Lynch, 51, left behind a wife and two children.
During the holidays towards the end of 2020, the Lynch family showed courage and tried to find other ways to celebrate. Lynch prepared feasts as usual for her family, but loved ones picked up the food to take home, rather than gathering in large numbers.
“We wanted it to be as happy as possible, but it was hard to say anything because it kind of all came back to him,” Lynch said.
During one of the worst outbreaks of the pandemic, the Lynch family, like so many across the country, celebrated Thanksgiving amid empty chairs, sharing meals via Zoom calls.
The spaces Darryl Lynch once occupied are now filled with small memorials.
At Thanksgiving, Mable Lynch draped a black tie over the chair she quickly sat in.
At the door where Lynch used to greet her son when he visited, Lynch recorded signs that read “I love you, thank you, stay safe, stay strong” and “My son might still be alive.” She is wearing a T-shirt with the same words on it.
Lynch said she wanted her son’s death to mean something.
“It’s going to be hard to be without him, but I hope I talk to people – I talk to people about him and I try to say it’s because we’re supposed to be better people,” said Lynch.
“I hope he maybe wants me to say that we have to be better people. I don’t know the purpose of his death, but I hope something will come out of it … that it’s okay, that ‘I lived well and now I’m going and now you have to wear it.’ This is what we must do, we must continue.
Lynch on Christmas Eve sat looking at pictures of her sons on the floor of her living room, where she often sat them when they were young and urged them to confide in her or resolve conflicts with each other.
About 35% of Michiganders aged 16 and over are still not vaccinated.
Lynch, like many in Michigan, was reluctant to get the vaccine.
Lynch finally decided to have her photo taken in honor of her son and to reunite his family.
On Saturday May 22, 2021, Lynch received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.
“I dedicated this photo to my son because I wish he had the opportunity,” said Lynch. “… Maybe he could be alive, to be with his family.” That’s what it means, a chance to maybe save another life, but I wanted his death to make sense. I didn’t want it to be in vain. It wouldn’t be fair to him, you know. He made a sacrifice. They know a little more about COVID because of him, so it wouldn’t have been fair for him to die and for me not to use that knowledge to hopefully save our lives.
“I just want families to know that we all have to make a decision. It is a personal decision that we all make. I know you wouldn’t want to be the one causing the illness of another loved one. This is why I took the vaccine, and I pray that it will allow me to be with my family.
“As an African American we’ve heard all the stories, we’ve heard all of it, I’m just (a generation) past slavery…” Lynch said, “I know all about the crazy things that were made for Black people. I lived in the south, I experienced a lot … But I felt that when I heard how vaccines worked and the death rate had gone down , that’s what was important to me, that the hospitalizations were down and the death rate went down. This is what is important to me. I will trust science. If I perish, I perish in Jesus name, I just wanted to do what I felt I had to do for humanity, for my friends for my family.
“We’re a really close family,” said Lynch, “and just being able to share time with each other again has been great. The sad part is that he’s not here, but the joy is that we come together as before as a family and share all the wonderful memories.