Stories: Who We Have Lost

Take It From Me: COVID-19 is no hoax

Story aboutMy son, John Velasco

My best friend, my son John, age 52, died Dec. 14, 2021. John suffered with severe rheumatoid arthritis, so his immune system was comprised. We hadn’t seen each other for months due to Covid-19.

We’d talk and text and he always stressed washing hands, masking up, keeping distance from others end not dining out. Yet he knew someone who laughed off Covid as just the “flu” and refused to mask up.

John contracted Covid and developed a high fever. He ended up on the Covid ward at a local hospital in Arlington Heights.

My heart ached to see him, hug him and tell him all would get better. That’s what moms do, right? I was dead wrong. John returned from the hospital and developed a secondary infection. His cough was horrendous

He was eager to return to work, to life. But on the evening of Dec. 14 he had a seizure; then a massive heart attack, Covid related. At the hospital as he lay lifeless on the gurney with a tube in his nose and another in his mouth, I scream-cried. I went into shock. Not my son!

I cry on a daily basis. I touch his baby picture and shake. My life will never be the same. Folks, wake up. This isn’t a political hoax. This is about being humane.

I’m begging you. Think smart. Be smart. Please. Hug your family daily. Tell them you love them. Our lives changed in a heartbeat for the worst.

I wrote this story and submitted it to the Daily Herald Newspaper in my home town, Arlington Heights, IL. They published it on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, 2022. I’ve heard from many old and new friends after reading “our story”, our pain.

I wrote the following article in John’s obituary:
John you are the love of my life. You took a piece of my heart with you. I remember your hugs, laughter, and the day you carried me from one room to another saying “Now when you behave yourself you can join us!” I laughed so hard I cried. That’s when you nicknamed me Fred. I am proud you were my son. My gift from God. Rest in peace. No more RA pain. I know you’re seeing the grandparents. No fighting! Love forever. P.S. I learned so much from you. You are my gift from God.

John’s birthday was Aug. 18th so in the following months I purchased several balloons and wrote “love notes” on them telling him how much I missed him on a daily basis but carry him in my heart and soul. I brought the balloons to the local park where we’d meet for suppers during Covid, keeping our social distance. As I released the balloons I sang Happy Birthday and told him stories of the day he was born.

The story that made him laugh many, many year later was what actually happened on the day of his birth. A young RN walked into my hospital room telling me they’d be bringing the babies in soon for their first feeding. I was a wreck but so worn out from labor and lack of sleep. Once he was in my arms I smiled like a Cheshire cat only to have another RN scream and race into the room telling me LOUDLY, “Don’t feed him, he’s not yours!” Yep, they’d given me the wrong baby!!!!

When John was in his “terrible two’s” I’d say, “You don’t look like me, you don’t sound like me, you are going back kiddo” all in jest. His retort was “You’re a bad mommy!” Years later we’d laugh and laugh with tears of happiness streaming down our faces. I’d give anything to hold John in my arms today, just one more time. I don’t think I’d be able to let him go.

I have a shirt he wore, locks of hair from his very first hair cut and a baby book of memories to carry me thru. But it hurts deeply every single minute of every single day!

Folks, look your loved ones straight into their eyes, even your pets, and tell them how much you love and cherish them. Every single day. Life is short.

Thank you for reading my thoughts, my heart and memories, my story.

4th of July – Celebrating America's Birthday

Story aboutRussell Murray #17

Oh boy….this is a really tough one!

Today is the 4th of July, the celebration of America’s birthday.

The 4th of July was a very important, BIG holiday in my family. Ever since I can remember, every year we had a big, all-day-long holiday celebration with friends and family.

* Getting up early to decorate the house
inside and out,
* A parade in the morning with coffee
and Dunkin’ Donuts,
* A big BBQ in the afternoon with my
Dad always manning the grill, and
* Fireworks in the evening

Always so much fun, never realizing at the time how precious and treasured those days were.

Never could I ever have imagined that soon those days would only be memories.

Missing those days so, so very much. What I wouldn’t give … for just one more time.

4th of July

Story aboutJody Settle

Jody loved the 4th of July. The barbecues with family and friends; hot dogs and hamburgers sizzling on the grill; corn on the cob; homemade potato salad; fresh watermelon dribbling down our chins. But, Jody’s favorite thing had to be the 4th of July fireworks display on the East River.

Getting from our home on the west side of northern Manhattan to the east side of midtown Manhattan was always an adventure. A trip on the subway followed by a ride on the crosstown bus was a challenge for someone using a wheelchair, but Jody looked upon it like a commander leading his troops (me) into battle.

We knew there was an area reserved for physically challenged spectators; we headed that way. We found the entry point where the police officers on duty greeted us and led us to the viewing area like visiting dignitaries. Jody basked in the attention. Much to my amazement, we were situated right at the railing at the edge of the water — an unobstructed view.

While we waited for the sun to set and the show to begin, Jody, ever outgoing, chatted up all the others waiting with us in expectation. He always had a natural connection with others who struggled against obstacles that most people couldn’t understand. His natural rapport created a new cast of acquaintances.

Finally, the fireworks show started. I loved to watch Jody’s face as each mortar exploded high above the river. The wide grin on his face, the oohs and aahs, the laugh when a delayed boom caught him by surprise. He watch mesmerized, enraptured by the rainbow of colors overhead. After the grand finale, he whooped and hollered and clapped along with the other spectators. Then, he turned to me and jokingly said: “Home, James.” We fought our way through the crowds and eventually reached home both grateful to have shared another wonderful memory.

Unspoken Sentiments

Story aboutDr. Volodymyr Buhayenko

Dear Dr. Volodymyr,

You have no idea how much I wish I could tell you this in person. But here we are, and it has been three years since you left us. We are still extremely saddened and our hearts are still broken, while I find myself thinking of you often. How can I not? You were such a healing presence in my and my husband’s life for so many years. Approximately 20 years.

I think about you not only for the amazing healing you have blessed us with, but also for the holistic education you had always instilled in us. Whenever I hear about free radicals, the gut microbiome, detoxification, etc., I always think back to when you were teaching us about this, many years ago. The medical world has finally caught up to you. I always knew you were ahead of your time and current days prove this to be true.

Your tireless dedication to move beyond the symptom and get to the root cause of the dis-ease, has made a world of difference in our healing over the years. This has also taught us that this is actual healing, not what the current medical world practices. I can literally see you now, shaking your head up and down while saying “yes,” as you had done so many times in the past.

You have left such a lasting impression on us with all of your medical knowledge and education. We continue to practice today what you have taught us long ago. We will never forget and always be grateful to you, for all the healing you have given us, as well as everything you have taught us.

You have always gone above and beyond. Not only for us but for all of your patients, as we have witnessed many, many times. We are truly saddened that so much more healing and learning will no longer be experienced, now that you are gone.

Your work here is done now and you are with all the Angels above. You are missed much, much more than you know. You will be forever in our hearts.

Rest in eternal peace, Dr. Volodymyr.

Love always,
Tracey & Frank

Cliff's Ice Cream

Story aboutRussell Murray

We’d go out for a drive to Cliff’s, your favorite homemade ice cream place, Dad. You loved it so much and always looked forward to going there.

You always ordered the same — your favorite ice cream sundae. Hard vanilla ice cream, chocolate syrup, whipped cream and a cherry.

Then it was back to your room to watch TV and reminisce about your past.

What I wouldn’t give. If only … just one more time.

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