OXFORD, N.C. — Pastor David McShaw lay in his hospital bed at UNC, tired, so tired, from weeks of being beaten up by COVID-19. It hurt to breathe. It hurt not to.
"I can't take it anymore," he thought.
Feeling like someone was standing on his chest in leather work boots, he called his wife, whom he had not seen since she dropped him off at the hospital in mid-September and went home to Oxford to deal with her own case of the novel coronavirus.
"I can't do this," he told her, his voice weak from exhaustion and the effects of the virus on his lungs. "Call the funeral home. Tell the kids I love them."
Jackie McShaw was having none of it. It had taken her more than 50 years to find the love of her life and she wasn't going to lose him now, after just three years of marriage.
She had been praying for David night and day, even during those two weeks when she couldn't get out of bed herself. She had given daily updates on his condition to members of the True Deliverance Worship Center, a small holiness church in Bahama where she's an elder and he is an associate pastor. She was in touch with his friends across the country from the days when he sang with a traveling gospel group.
He was being covered in prayer.
"You can't give up," Jackie told David. "There is too much for you to do. I need you to fight."
David had known since the outbreak of the virus that he was among the vulnerable: Over age 60, African American, with anemia and severe kidney disease.
When the virus hit North Carolina in March, David had been on a list for nearly seven years to receive a new kidney. A couple of times, he had been notified of a match only to later be disappointed at finding that it wouldn't work.