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.

Mable Lynch sits on the back porch of her home on Wednesday, January 6, 2021, while talking about how she coped with her son’s death from COVID-19. Nicole Hester / MLive.com

“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.

Mable Lynch

Mable Lynch wears a pin from his son’s funeral, while talking about his memories with him on Thursday, November 26, 2020. Lynch’s son, Darryl Lynch, died of COVID-19 in March 2020.Nicole Hester / MLive.com

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.

Mable Lynch

Mable Lynch is preparing a Thanksgiving meal for family members to pick up at her home on November 26, 2020 in Pontiac. Typically, Lynch said her house will be full of family members.Nicole Hester / MLive.com

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.

Mable Lynch

A corner figure sits in the kitchen window of Mable Lynch’s home during Thanksgiving on November 26, 2020 in Pontiac. Lynch’s faith helped her cope with the death of her son. Nicole Hester / MLive.com

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.

Mable Lynch

An empty table where Mable Lynch’s family usually gathered for holiday meals on November 26, 2020 in Pontiac. Nicole Hester / MLive.com

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.

Mable Lynch

A black tie draped over the chair Darryl Lynch used to sit on when the family gathered for holiday meals at his mother Mable Lynch’s Pontiac home on November 26, 2020.Nicole Hester / MLive.com

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.

Mable Lynch

Mable Lynch delivers homemade Christmas notes to his neighbors while wearing a shirt with the words “My son could still be alive” on December 12, 2020. Lynch’s son Darryl Lynch, 51, has died of COVID- March 19, 2020. Nicole Hester / MLive.com

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.

Mable Lynch

Mable Lynch looks at photos of his son Darryl Lynch on the floor of his living room on December 24, 2020 in Pontiac. Nicole Hester / MLive.com

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.

Mable Lynch

Mable Lynch holds a photo of herself and her sons Derek Lynch and Darryl Lynch on December 24, 2020 in Pontiac. Nicole Hester / MLive.com

Mable Lynch

A memorial made by Mable Lynch for his son on November 26, 2020 in Pontiac. Nicole Hester / MLive.com

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.

Mable Lynch story

Mable Lynch pats his chest and whispers “This is for my baby Lord, this is for him”, before getting the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. Nicole Hester / MLIVE.com

“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.

Mable Lynch story

Mable Lynch receives the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. Nicole Hester / MLIVE.com

“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.

Mable Lynch story

Mable Lynch kisses her husband as the two wait to receive their COVID-19 vaccine Nicole Hester / MLIVE.com

Mable Lynch

The Lynch family shake hands in prayer during the family dinner on Sunday, June 13, 2020 in Pontiac. Nicole Hester / MLIVE.com

“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.

Mable Lynch

Mable Lynch hugs her grandchild, daughter of her late son Darryl Lynch, on Sunday, June 13, 2021. “I’ve kissed them their whole life,” Lynch said. “Not being able to hug them because of the virus has been devastating for us and for me. I am a hug. I am a grandmother.
Nicole Hester / MLIVE.com

Mable Lynch

Mable Lynch is standing in her kitchen while her grandchildren enjoy a family supper that she prepared on Sunday June 13, 2020 in Pontiac. Nicole Hester / MLIVE.com

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