Stories: Who We Have Lost

I sat next to my friend Norma in the alto section of choir at Madam Russell UMC for 8 years. As choir friends do, we whispered during practice and shared fun times and frustrations. We would gift each other small homemade items. She would say to me, "Your mother is far away and I never had a daughter, only sons."

She and her husband died in an early wave of COVID at a local nursing home. We never got to say goodbye. Hers was a senseless death fueled by misinformation and politics. I will never get over it.

Thanksgiving 2017

Story aboutWilmard Santiago

Thanksgiving five years ago in 2017 was at my brother's house. He was so happy to host us.

My brother did not have much, but the little he had, he shared. He didn't have a table for all to sit around, but we all managed to sit together and eat, talk, listen to music and dance.

And photos, lots of photos. He loved taking pictures. It was a beautiful day. Those memories came up on my Facebook page today. It hurt looking at those memories. He was in those photos, of course, but so was my stepson, Alberto Locascio, who also passed from COVID on September 20, 2021. How I wish they were both here. We miss them both.

Today, the night before Thanksgiving 2022, I thank God for them and those memories. I am thankful for the time we spent together. Happy Thanksgiving to all of our angels in heaven.

My brother died of Covid very recently (Summer 2022). He was 50. He’d had other health problems -- he was an alcoholic, and he was very obese. But Covid sped his demise. He was a big-time Trump guy. He loved “owning the libs." He was angry all the time. He did not believe in getting vaccinated. He thought Covid was a bogus ploy by the elites to control him. Then he was admitted to the hospital with breathing problems. That’s when they found a host of other issues related to Covid. And he, of course, tested positive repeatedly in the hospital. He got angry about that and checked himself out of the hospital, even though he could barely walk at that time. Then he got even worse. He had to check into another hospital -- the first one would not take him back after his behavior there. It took him a while to die. Two months, I think. He never faced the reality of his situation, and the hick doctors in his rural hospital put that he died “of a heart attack” on his death certificate because they, the doctors, did not want to “give” something to “the libs”. Well, I know the truth. My brother died of Covid. And it was needless.

My brother wasn’t always like this. He used to be a kid who cared about others, a kind person who wanted to change the world a little bit. He got his law degree and passed the bar in two states. He, for a while, had a thriving practice. He played sports. He got married, and had a son. He was thoughtful. He was going places. He was always a Republican, but when Trump came it was as if my brother found his savior. He definitely found a home and justification for his rage.

His anger towards anyone who wasn’t in love with Trump eventually caused me to have to stop speaking with him in 2020. I knew people who died of Covid in the early days, and people who got very, very ill. And then one day he got angry at me and accused me of being against him. We stopped talking for a year and a half. Until he was dying.

He broke my heart. But the last two months of his life, he let go of his anger and hate. He became insightful. Funny. Wise. Of course, a big part of that was the hospital not allowing him to drink alcohol. His mind became sharp again. He was focused enough to create, and he did -- right up to the end. He and I talked daily. For hours. I had my brother back.

I think of my brother’s end as a redemption story. He got very lost. Life kicked him around, and he lost his way. I’m grateful that he found his way back to himself before he died.

I miss the brother I had at the end. Every day. I’m sad. Angry. I don’t know what else. But sometimes I’m feeling peaceful about it.

The Christmas Tree

Story aboutMichael Mantell

Picking out our Christmas tree was always stressful. Mike would pick out a 10-foot tree for a house with 8-foot ceilings. Then we had to wait three days for the branches to fall before the lights could go on. Well, with 5 daughters there was very little patience for this. But it was actually a joyful time because there was a lot of laughs, singing Mariah Carey Christmas songs and teasing my husband because we had to tie up the tree so it wouldn’t fall down.

Such happy memories that we will never be able to duplicate. Just not the same getting the Christmas tree anymore ...

Remnants

Story aboutVanessa Rattanayong

I kept your rosy lips chapstick just to taste your DNA when I miss you most…

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