Stories: Who We Have Lost

6 Months Today

Story aboutTom Darnall

Six months since I’ve held your hand for the last time — how I miss that. I was thinking about how we held hands every night while watching TV. I miss your touch!

People are Crazy

Story aboutCesar Velasquez

Every Friday night, after a long week at our body shop, we would head out for dinner and karaoke at a hole-in-the-wall bar and grill. My husband and myself would meet with our closest friends for a night of fun. My husband’s go-to song was always the same: “People are Crazy” by Billy Currington.

The karaoke guy would announce us as ‘George and Company.’ We would all sing along with him — it was so much fun. Now that is one of my favorite songs and brings back so many good memories.

I can see him standing there with his cowboy hat and his long white beard, drinking his Coors Light while singing “God is great, beer is good and people are crazy”.

Miss you every day …
Te amo, my Nerd!!

Broken by Long Covid

Story aboutRobert Barrios

In 2020 Robert was a frontline worker in the shipping/receiving industry in Anderson, SC. He was working for a company that had two locations (he worked at their smaller location). He did what he could to protect us from having to go out much. He was exposed at work due to his company not protecting him and the other employees at both locations. They had trucks coming in from all over the Eastern coast; none were masked.

We got all the way to the last Monday in June and he went off to work like any other day, but within a few hours he was on his way home sicker than he had ever been. He did video visits as well as one rapid access visit where they claimed it wasn’t covid per an Xray. They treated him for a week with a Zpack and steroids, yet he only got worse. Finally by the weekend of July 4th he was struggling to maintain his O2 levels and I had to drive him to the ER where they refused to allow me in. Later that night he was sent to the ICU and the next day treated with plasma. Less than 24 hours after the plasma treatment, he called me very early in the morning via Facetime crying, saying they were putting him on a vent. This would be the last time I would speak to him for 81 days where he was in his right mind. Through these 81 days he suffered: ICU delirium (later he would tell me what that was like, it was horrific, he said it was all about kidnapping/demons and other delusions–found out this is normal every time someone is brought out of sedation in an ICU setting–he suffered two types of pneumonia, collapsed lung, aspiration into the lungs multiple times, feeding tubes (2xs), and being on and off a ventilator 4xs the last time being a trach (in the neck); he also suffered massive weight loss and bed sores.

By the time September rolled around, he was transferred to a rehab hospital where he spent maybe two weeks. I was only then able to be in the same room with him, unlike our daughter who couldn’t. I thought the worst was behind us and I was happy to have him even with the long hauler issues he was sure to have. Throughout the almost two years of dealing with long covid he was ignored over and over by the medical community from various hospitals in our area. Every last specialist we could go see told him, in a nut shell, to suck it up and wait and see, that it was just a waiting game to see how his new “normal” would be. He came out of the ICU with maybe 50% lung capacity and by April 2022 only gained 10% more back (60%). He couldn’t do small things like maintain energy enough to do housework or walk through Walmart yet doctors did nothing.

The last few months prior to his death he was becoming more winded, suffering set back after set back and still we were ignored. A week prior to his death he went into the ER and then admitted into the cardio ward for chest and shoulder pain and was given a stress test with ultrasound and was told all was fine. He was released without any other specialist being called in and our concerns when voiced were ignored by two top cardio doctors in Seneca, SC. Little did we know what lay ahead for us. On March 22, 2022 I came home to find him winded but in a good mood. The three of us enjoyed our evening laughing and joking around. About 8:45 or so I went to watch tv in our bedroom and around 9pm he came in and was complaining of intense pain around the diaphragm area. He went to the bathroom, came out and doubled over my side of the bed. I told him to go lay down, he couldn’t. Within less than 2 minutes he was on the ground, eyes not moving and not breathing. The sound he was making haunts me. I called 911 and began CPR. By 10:35pm at the local hospital he was pronounced dead. Now I harbor guilt that I couldn’t save him and have to watch our little girl grow up without her papa bear because medical professionals failed us. How do we get past this? In the end, per the doctors it was a massive widow maker that killed him …

July

Story aboutEdgar Calvache, Sr.

July was always a month of celebrations. My dad, me and my husband all celebrated together.

One year I decided to get a cake with Happy Birthday 5-10-15 on it. My dad is 7/5, mine is 7/10 and my husband is 7/15.

Tomorrow is 7/5, which is also my 25th wedding anniversary. My dad would have been so happy!

Pizza, Popcorn and Fireworks

Story aboutAlan Trobe

The sun was getting lower in the sky, setting up for a beautiful summer sunset. My brothers and I had been called in early from our day of running barefoot in the backyard, playing games long forgotten. Coming in the back door, just off the kitchen, we could smell the popcorn as we bounded up the steps. Dad already had the popcorn in the big paper bag, which meant we were going to the Drive-in. The sides of the paper bag had dark streaks where the butter had seeped through. Mom was pouring ice on top of the drinks in the bottom of the blue and white cooler. The ice making a clinking sound when it hit the cans below.

Dad was on the phone; I could hear him “a large pepperoni and green pepper pizza and a large cheese.” The cheese pizza was for me. I watched him as he stood there finishing the order. His skin had the summer glow from working in the yard and his gold-colored watch was making the light dance on the ceiling and walls as he moved his arm. He was still in his twenties then, slender in his jeans and t-shirt and flat top haircut. I remember him then, just as he always looked in the early photographs. His smile, big with a hint of orneriness and those dimples.

We drove to Sam’s pizza place on Shadeland Avenue, like we did almost every Friday night. There in the picture window of the small white building, was Sam. The five of us sat there in amazement watching Sam toss the pizza dough high in the air and catching it with ease as it whirled around on the way down. Dad worked there with Sam briefly when he was a teenager. We were always eager to hear him tell us about making the pizzas.

After getting the pizzas we arrived at the drive-in and parked our white Pontiac convertible in one of the spots. Tonight, was different. Rarely did we get to play on the swing sets up by the big screen. Dad pushed my littlest brother back and forth with his legs reaching high into the air with each push. I don’t recall the movie we saw but I can still see my dad with his arm around my mom sitting in the front seat. My brothers and I sat on top of the back seat with a clear view of the big screen and the night sky filled with faraway twinkling stars.

There was always a double feature at the drive-in with a break in between movies for a trip to the concession stand or restroom. Even though we were full of pizza and popcorn Dad took us to get ice cream during the break and we returned to the car just in time for the fireworks. The sky was filled with the long swooshes, followed by the deep booms and colorful bursts of light. Reds, greens, blues and purples exploded and filled the sky, reflecting off all of the cars, resulting in lots of oohs and aahs.

I don’t remember anything about the second feature. My brothers and I fell asleep in the backseat. I woke up as we pulled into the driveway but pretended to be asleep. Mom carried my littlest brother into the house and Dad picked up my other brother in his arms. My attempt to be carried in by dad didn’t fool him. He reached out his hand for me to take and said quietly to come on. I slipped my nine-year-old hand into his and walked beside him. Just as I had so many times before and would many times throughout my life.

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