Strength in community during loss

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“Life can give you strength. Strength can come from facing the storms of life, from knowing loss, feeling sadness and heartache, from falling into the depths of grief. You must stand up in the storm. You must face the wind and the cold and the darkness. When the storm blows hard you must stand firm, for it is not trying to knock you down, it is really trying to teach you to be strong.”

— Joseph M. Marshall III

I have written of my hometown, but have constantly been at a loss to describe its great strength in times of adversity. These last three weeks have shown, once again, how the people of this tiny community weave broken hearts together, standing strong for those walking through the toughest of times.

Community

The entire high school football team lined the cemetery, paying respects to their young coach on the day his father was laid to rest. Hundreds of people poured their loving kindness over the grieving family, after a sudden illness and hospitalization took the life of Tim Cline, 53.

This family, who have given so much of themselves in our community, were shown a measure of appreciation through their grief, in sheer numbers who gathered.

Losses. Just three days later, another loss, then another. COVID-19 took the life of a man from a neighboring community who had many friends in ours. Navy Reservist Nathan Bishop, 33, who had served a tour of duty in Afghanistan as a Seabee, had helped many young people as a devoted coach.

An avid hunter and outdoorsman, his father said he came down with COVID-19 after a Canton-area hospital visit for a minor injury while hunting. Bishop leaves behind three young children.

An early morning car accident Dec. 5 ended the life of Timothy Pryor, who had just celebrated his 34th birthday. His twin daughters had just turned 1, and a son is 3 this week. He had been working all the extra shifts he could at a steel mill, providing for his growing family. He’d worked on a neighboring dairy farm while growing up and would offer a helping hand to anyone.

Tim Pryor’s beautiful wife, Kalyn, stands as the pillar of strength at 29, thanking those who bring food, boxes of diapers, simple gifts wrapped in kindness.

Woven together. I watched Kalyn and her siblings over the years. All of them were exceptional in 4-H and FFA. Our connection goes back to their grandparents, friends to my parents. I grew up with their father, amidst a bunch of kids playing together as our parents enjoyed a game of cards.

We are woven together, through the generations, in this community. We celebrate the victories, gather at weddings and joyfully welcome new life . We expect to gather at the cemetery as grandparents go to the great beyond. Storms of life have tempered generations before us, and we carry that forward.

For our aching community, this has been a season of unbearable loss, losing impressive young men in the prime of their life. For as deeply as we hurt, compassion is carved in our shared grief. We gather, we give, we love one another through it.

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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, and three grandchildren.

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