Stories: Who We Have Lost

Never Complained

Story aboutMichael Rodriguez

Michael never worried, about anything. He never complained and rarely got angry.

After 25 years he said “You know, I really like my bacon limp.“ Shaking my head …

We lost him the first year. He was a nurse, his second chosen career. I miss him terribly, every day.

Second Anniversary Remembrance 19-April-2022

Story aboutJody Settle (1 of 2)

It was late morning, two years ago today. The live stream of the Divine Mercy Sunday Mass from the rectory at St. Elizabeth’s had just concluded. That seemed apropos of the situation with the novel coronavirus that was ravaging the world. The phone rang and caller ID told me it was the hospital calling with an update on your condition.

I answered the phone wondering who would be the bearer of news that morning. But, today, it was different. The two physicians assistants, Amanda and Edith, and the two RN’s, Becky and Lisa, were all on the line. They had cared for you since you were admitted to the hospital and now seemed so much like family. My stomach dropped. There had to be a reason they were all on the call. And there was. They let me know that you were on the last downhill of the COVID-19 roller coaster. Your breathing and other vitals indicated that your time with us was nearing its end. All I could think was that I would never have the opportunity to say goodbye.

But they surprised me. They asked if I wanted to come to the hospital to see you. I was amazed given that, in those early days of the pandemic, no one was allowed in the hospital. They explained that you had been moved to a hospice unit set up in an isolated part of the hospital with two or three others in your same situation. One family member was being allowed in for a thirty-minute visit. Of course, I jumped at the chance to be with you.

I went downstairs and, luckily, the bus arrived within minutes. I remember nothing about that trip. I sat there trying to accept the fact that this would be the last time I would ever see you: your smiles darkened; your wry sense of humor silenced; your determination to walk again thwarted.

Within minutes, the twenty-two block trip was over. I was at the hospital. Much to my surprise, the doors were all locked – another anomaly in the chaotic world we were navigating. I could see a security guard at a desk inside and waved. He came to the door, unlocked it, and surprised me when he said: “Are you Ed?” I guess the word was out that I had come to see you.

Second Anniversary Remembrance 19-April-2022

Story aboutJody Settle (2 of 2)

After a temperature check and answering “no” to a litany of COVID-19 symptoms, they decided I wasn’t a threat. The guards called upstairs to let them know I was there to see you. It was maybe ten minutes before someone, dressed from head-to-toe in a hazmat suit, appeared. It was the RN, Becky. Given the circumstances, she was cordial and comforting, apologetic that we were meeting like this. As she led me upstairs to you, I asked her what to expect. She told me you weren’t conscious but you were not in distress. Once we arrived in the area where you were being cared for, I could see you through the window. I felt the tears start rolling down my face. The staff gave me a few minutes to compose myself and then they dressed me up in the same type of hazmat uniform they were wearing. In a way, I was glad you wouldn’t see me like that. You would have laughed hysterically and had a risqué comment or two.

Becky escorted me into the room and told me to talk to you. It seems our sense of hearing is the last to go. There you were looking peaceful and serene, somewhere between heaven and earth. So, I sat at the side of the bed, took your hand in mine, and talked about the laughs and good times we had shared together for over thirty years. I think you knew I was there because every once in a while, the heart monitor would leap out of it normal pattern. Before I knew it, Becky knocked on the window and held up her hand letting me know I only had five more minutes with you. I couldn’t imagine how I could share all our hopes and dreams for the future in such a short time. So, I reminded you how you had fought the good fight against MS for so many years and suggested that maybe now you should let go and rest. I kissed your forehead, tapped your cheek, and headed out of the room. I removed the hazmat suit, took one last look through the window, and headed home.

I wasn’t home but thirty minutes when Amanda, the physicians assistant, called to let me know you had passed. I guess you waited for me to come so we could have a proper goodbye. I knew you were at peace. Later that afternoon, the hospital called to tell me they had your ring and your wristwatch. Could I pick them up? I headed back to the hospital and retrieved them. As I waited for the bus to go home, I looked at your watch. It had stopped at the exact time they had called me to tell me you had passed. Was that you telling me that you were still around looking after me? I think so.

Two years later, I still miss you all the time. I have your photograph on the wall and say good morning and good night every day. Sometimes when things get crazy, I look at the photo and cry out “Help me, Jody,” and everything seems to calm down. I know you are okay. Since you left, I’ve had occasional nightmares and when I woke up, shaking and heart pounding, there you were standing next to the bed, no wheelchair in sight, assuring me that everything was okay. That’s when I understood that heaven had sent an angel to look over me.

Until we meet again. Run free in the fields of the Lord.

Our Doorman, Our Friend

Story aboutLiaquat Mohammed

IN THE NAME OF GOD THE MERCIFUL THE COMPASSIONATE
“TO GOD WE BELONG AND TO HIM WE SHALL RETURN”

April 5, 2020 is a very sad day on which I lost a good friend, Mr. Liaquat Mohammed, to the dreadful Corona virus disease and he will be dearly missed.

I have known Mr. Mohammed for over 31 years during which he was the senior doorman of our building in Manhattan, New York. He was charismatic, professional, kind, protective, and loyal to all of the families in the building. In addition, our family especially remembers Mr. Mohammed for caring and keeping a guardian’s eye on our three children on their way to their schools.

Mr. Mohammed and I had a special friendship shared through our fasting of the month of Ramadan as well as celebrating the feasts of “Eid El Fetr” and “Eid El Adha.” Liaquat will be missed, especially during these times.

I am honoring Liaquat today, since I believe that valuable lessons can be learned even from the most difficult experiences in life. If I can plead with everyone reading this tribute to be vigilant for her/him self and their loved ones, to avoid any conditions that might lead to becoming infected by that dangerous disease, then Liaquat’s departure would not be in vain. I know that Mr. Mohammed would be smiling from up there knowing that he has helped in protecting even one valuable life; this would be a typical gift that he would have loved to give, any time.

Please take a moment and pray in the name of Mr. Liaquat Mohammed for a well-deserved welcome to God’s eternal heavens. Rest in Peace my friend, until we meet again.

Dad

Story aboutLiaquat Mohammed

Liaquat Mohammed was born in Trinidad in 1949. He was one of 10 siblings with many nephews, neices, grand nephews and grand neices whom affectionately referred to him as Uncle Dads. He died April 5, 2020 due to Covid. He was married to his wife for 48 years. They were looking forward to spending their 50th anniversary January 2022 but they were robbed of that milestone. Together they had 3 children and 6 grandchildren whom he adored. Liaquat introduced his children to road trips in America. Getting lost in his backyard but miraculously navigating like a pro outside of NY. They reciprocated as adults taking him to places he wanted to visit but put himself aside for their happiness. They are continuing the tradition with their families. His son has been to 44/50 states and hopes to finish in his lifetime.

Liaquat migrated to NY in 1980 starting a new life with his family. Never forgetting his roots as many vacations consisted of returning back “home” to visit family, friends and showing off the wonderful sights of Trinidad and Tobago to his children and family members. Some of whom exclaimed they lived there their entires lives and never knew what was in their backyard. 

One of the things he never forgot to do was hold religious functions, bringing immediate and extended families together. He never failed to introduce his children hoping they would commit a name and face to memory. Looking back, it was the best thing ever. He wanted us to know that you never knew who you would meet the next time you visited. 

Since his passing to present, he lost a brother, sister and 2 nieces. He was the glue that held the family near and far together because he believed in everyone coming together not only in grief. 

In NY he worked as a doorman on the Upper East Side for 30+ years where the residents remembered him as a guardian to their children. Keeping a watchful eye on them as they left and came home from school. Always remembering birthdays and anniversaries of residents and their families when they themselves forgot. They revered him as someone who was diplomatic, making himself known to everyone in and around the block — even the traffic cop saving some residents and colleagues from tickets, while occasionally waving to George Stephanopoulos on his way to the studio in the morning. 

His passing has deeply affected his Upper East Side family along with co-workers. He was a family man. Everyone whom have expressed their grief described him as a humble, gentle, fun loving person. He is dearly missed by all who knew him. 

On a personal note, Covid robbed us of visiting him in the hospital, being an integral part of his treatment, holding his hand for the last time and kissing him goodbye. There was nothing traditional in his funeral, burial and mourning. No visits from friends and family; just a call, letter or text extending condolences. He went straight from the morgue trucks stationed outside of the hospital with other deceased to the funeral home in a doubled body bag. There was no traditional Islamic last rites such as “bathing” of the dead or wrapping in cloth … only a body bag. No funeral or viewing. On his funeral day, he was taken in a Sprinter van along with 2 other gentlemen, one of whom was his friends’ father and the other a stranger. With Covid norm went out the window.

At the burial grounds you weren’t allowed the chance to view the remains in the casket so who did you bury? It was the worst moment in our lives. Despite wanting to blame the treatment of ventilators by hospitals and lack of consultations with families I hope that society takes a look back at our dark days and never repeats the same mistakes.

We lost a hero! My mom lost a partner! The grandchildren lost their Nana. Dad still had a long time left in him and was not supposed to go this way. My mom cries everyday. Her life is not the same. No one besides FOCV and YHM understands what we are dealing with. The stories echo each other.

Love you Dad —

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