Rise Up

During Times of Uncertainty

By Linda Flynn-Mulliner, Camp Ladore Alumna

Reflecting back, I once again find myself in the throes of uncertainty. An uncertainty caused by none other than the reality that life happens, for better or for worse. Today’s current global crisis is real and present, threatening life as we know it. Questions loom, such as…

  • “How will this affect our community, our families, our children?”
  • “Will we fall victim or emerge unscathed?”
  • “How will we rise up once this has passed?”
  • “Where might we find love, hope and courage?”
  • “Will healing ever come

In 1976, a mysterious flu-like influenza virus hit Harrisburg PA. In March of that year, the virus (referred to as Influenza-A) attacked my family’s home with a vengeance, and we fell victim to its wrath. My parents didn’t see it coming, nor did the school we attended, the church where we worshiped, or the workplace where my parents were employed.

The wind was knocked out of our home and our lives were shattered

There were eight of us in the home; 6 siblings plus Mom and Dad. Without warning, each of us fell ill from this mysterious virus and our world stopped. My father and 14-year-old brother Mark became gravely ill. Both faded in and out of consciousness with fevers. Mark was the most vulnerable of all of us. He had a compromised immune system, Cerebral Palsy and Epilepsy. The virus was just too aggressive, and it would take Mark’s life.

The wind was knocked out of our home and our lives were shattered; however, it was not the end of our story. At times, we found it unbearable and it was unthinkable to believe that healing would ever come. Our lives continued, and one foot in front of the other…we found love, hope and courage in the small moments. Family, friends and neighbors embraced us with their love, rallied around us, sent prayers up to heaven on our behalf and stood strong in faith believing. Meals were provided, groceries delivered, and bills were anonymously paid. Today, looking back… greater is the story of hope, courage and healing we all went through as a family. We continued to grieve the loss of my brother, yet emerged stronger as a family, bound together with greater bonds of love and determination.

The Coronavirus is hitting on a global level, attacking our communities and our homes. For some, like my family, at a more personal level. We are all in this together and must heed the warnings. “Safer-at-Home” is more than a mantra and… social distancing is keeping our families protected from a virus that is lurking in the shadows.

This virus appears to be on a relentless trajectory, and it is downright scary. Sadly, the Coronavirus has already infected an unthinkable number of people and many have died. In comparison, its global impact is on a much grander scale than the virus of 1976; yet, for the Flynn family it brings back memories of a sinister illness that tragically robbed our family.

During times of crisis and uncertainty, pillars within our communities rise and become our strength and provision. So, it was true with my family. It was during the Easter Season of 1976 that my family fell ill. Through a selfless loving act of kindness, Big Brothers and Big Sisters reached out to my family. They took my brother, sisters and I on a shopping spree for Easter outfits. My heart still smiles when I remember my little yellow daisy dress, white patent leather shoes and ruffled ankle socks. In the privacy of my parent’s home, they presented a suit for Mark’s burial. I distinctly remember the cornflower blue of his jacket and slacks to this day. Miraculously Easter baskets and groceries appeared on Easter Morning. 

Camp Ladore, during the summer camp season of 1976, became the foundation for our healing.

At our time of loss and despair, the Salvation Army and YMCA were strong pillars of hope for our family. The Salvation Army helped my parents with funeral arrangements and surrounded us as a family with loving care. As children, we found refuge, moments of happiness and friendship playing at the Salvation Army located across the street from our house. Food was provided and my parents were assured that their children were safe and being cared for.

3 Girls jumping

Camp Ladore (a ministry of the Salvation Army) located in Waymart PA also reached out to my family. My three older siblings, Mark, Cindy and Buck had attended Camp Ladore for several years; however, the summer of 1976 Mark wouldn’t be there. Camp leaders discovered that my twin sister Mindy and I fell one year short of the age requirement. We were only 6 years old that summer; however, Camp leaders made an exception and decided to allow us to attend camp.

Anonymous scholarships were provided for all of us children that year and would continue for years to follow. Camp Ladore, during the summer camp season of 1976, became the foundation for our healing. My family’s pain and grief were intense and ran deep, but we discovered a place of refuge to move past that grief. 

As the Coronavirus infects more people and the death toll rises, it may be difficult for these families to find hope during tragedy. As a testament from a family who fell victim to a ravenous virus, in time the healing will come.  Let us rally around each other—our family, community, and nation in faith believing that healing is within our reach. The Coronavirus will be defeated, and we will rise, and healing will come. Communities and families will be affected, some will fall victim, and some will go unscathed. Maintaining a spirit of confidence and courage in the direst of situations is how we will find hope in knowing that this too shall pass. The question is, “Will you heed the call and rise to the occasion, bringing hope and healing to the hurting? Will you stand confident and courageous, a pillar in a time of uncertainty?”