May 21, 2020
By Grace Thornton
The Alabama Baptist
It’s been six weeks since Melody Maxwell contracted COVID-19, and she’s still spending most of her time in bed.
It’s been painful and exhausting. It’s been lonely. But most of all, she said it’s been an opportunity for her to lean into the God “who sustains us even in difficult times.”
Maxwell’s COVID-19 story started in mid-March on a Baptist women’s trip to New York City.
“The situation with the virus started getting more serious while we were traveling,” she said. “I returned home on a Saturday and had a sore throat and cough on Sunday.”
Maxwell was able to get tested that day, but before the results came back she was pretty sure she had the virus.
“I felt terrible all over and was very exhausted,” said Maxwell, a former Alabama Baptist who now serves as a church history professor at a Canadian Baptist seminary, Acadia Divinity College in Wolfville, Nova Scotia.
She also had headaches, low-grade fever, a cough, chest tightness, shortness of breath, minor lung pain, crushing fatigue and a loss of her sense of taste.
“At one point I went to the emergency room because I was having some trouble breathing,” Maxwell said. “They checked me over and determined I was OK and simply needed to wait the virus out.”
These days she is resting a lot but getting closer to normal.
“The whole experience hasn’t been easy. It’s difficult to be sick and alone, especially for so long,” Maxwell said. “I’m also thankful to be part of a faith tradition where lament is accepted. Although we don’t do a lot of lamenting in our churches, the Psalms are full of lament. I’ve been praying some of these Psalms and calling out in pain and lament to God. I’ve also been reassured by verses about God’s comfort and presence in the midst of difficulty.”
Maxwell said she’s also thankful for friends and fellow church members who have taken care of her even though they couldn’t be physically present. Sometimes that’s meant just sending her a funny video to lift her spirits; other times it’s meant cooking her a meal.
“I have been grateful for very generous church members who have looked after me. … They have checked my mail, bought me groceries and put gas in my car,” Maxwell said. “I especially appreciated people who didn’t just ask what I needed but brought along extras like ice cream or flowers to lift my spirits. I would have never asked for these things, but they brought some joy in the midst of a difficult time.”