Stories: Who We Have Lost

Her Name Was June

Story aboutJune Hill (2 of 2)

The first update said she had pneumonia. The second that she was in isolation on a COVID-19 floor. She’d been tested, of course, but her results wouldn’t be available for 48 hours. Very few staff worked the unit to minimize transmission. She’d have to test negative twice to be moved elsewhere.

At first, updates were mostly positive. She wanted to go home, which was a good sign. There was even talk about sending her home. But then we received word that she’d tested positive for COVID-19. In just a few hours, her oxygen levels began to drop, the pneumonia built in her lungs. She, as the medical professionals say, had taken a turn for the worse.

Waking can be hard because you remember. You remember someone you love is hurting, can’t quite catch her breath, and she’s alone in a hospital room. That’s the cruelty of COVID-19, the separation. As humans, we need connection, but COVID-19 has severed that cord ruthlessly.

I woke this morning and headed downstairs. It was too early to call for updates. But at about 7:30 a.m. as I made a chicken salad sandwich, my phone rang.

Did I know before I knew? Before I heard my father weeping? Before the words “she passed sometime during the night?”

Everything unravels in that moment. Everything you’ve held close, the breath and tears, let loose.

Will there be a funeral? Will we be able to hug? Are we carrying this grief alone, too, only to cut it open when we see one another again? If we are able to see one another again? Will a hug even mean the same?

That’s another thing COVID does — it makes you question a gesture once meant for comfort, because now anything might kill you.

It’s easy to hear statistics on the news — a number isn’t a person, but when one number becomes a person you love, you’re angry and scared shitless.

If this faceless killer can find my grandmother, homebound, in rural Kentucky, it can find us all.

We’re all more than a number, let’s not forget. Her name was June. She was a mother, grandmother, sister, aunt. She loved us all, and we loved her.

Jamey Temple is June Hill’s granddaughter and an English professor at University of the Cumberlands. This piece was published in The Courier Journal, 4/5/2020.

In Memory of My Grandma

Story aboutJanette Glover

On July 8, 1934 the most amazing woman was born. She was the best mother, sister, daughter, but most of all the best Grandmother we could have asked for! She dedicated her life to helping others and never once had a bad word to say about anyone. She was the most caring person I ever knew and never gave up on any of us no matter what!

On June 25, 2020 our entire world as we knew it came to end! Our sweet mother and grandmother took her last breath at 12:14 am and returned home! She was at peace!

Due to covid and the regulations we were never able to actually tell her goodbye or even hold her hand, and Unless you had to go thru it you will never understood how hard that was! It’s almost been 1 year this Friday and it has not been a day that goes by that we don’t cry and remember her! She was the rock for everyone and I’m so thankful for all the memories we have of her!

My Partner

Story aboutHarmon Clem

I lost my husband to Covid on Dec. 24th, 2020. The worst day of my life. Going on without your husband of 38 years is the hardest thing I can imagine. I look forward to reuniting with him in heaven.

One Last Talk

Story aboutWalter Lovelace Jr.

I lost my dad. My dad was everything; my role model, my best friend, my everything. One day in September my father told me he was in the hospital with Covid-19. I was shocked because he was so cautious when it came to the virus but the last Saturday in September changed my life forever.

My father called me from the hospital asking for me to bring him some underwear. I told him I was at work and that I couldn’t leave. He told me, “Make your money son.” That was the last conversation I ever had with my dad. The next day my father stopped breathing and was pronounced to be in a coma. My father fought for two months to try to beat it but it was too late.

On November 6th, I got a phone call at 3:20am saying that my dad wasn’t going to make it till morning. We had had a meeting scheduled for that morning to come up with a plan to help save my father. So I got up and hurried to make it down there. When I arrived, it was just me and my dad in the room for almost an hour. Then, my little sister arrived. But before that, during the time it was just me there with my dad, for that whole hour, I was just holding his hand. I couldn’t believe my best friend could not talk to me.

My sister and I were sitting in the room with my father and the nurse told me that we needed to make a decision about whether to take him off of life support or let him pass in a nursing home on his own. We told them we would rather let him go with his kids in the room, rather than having him pass alone somewhere else.

So, dad passed away at 6:05am that morning. We watched his heart rate slowly drop.

I went home to process everything that had just happened. Over the next few days the funeral was planned. Though not only the funeral because my sweet baby girl, my first child, was going to try to make her way into the world. She could come at any moment. Yes, my dad passed away before meeting his first grandchild. He had been excited to be a grandfather and couldn’t wait to meet her.

In the next couple of weeks my dad’s funeral was held and he was buried in Alabama. I distanced myself from his family because my father was the only person I could trust. But then, two weeks after the funeral, three days before my dad’s birthday, my daughter Kendyll was born on November 20th at 12:04pm in the same hospital where my dad passed away.

Most dads cry when they hear their baby’s first cry. I couldn’t even cry though because my smile was ear to ear when I saw her pretty face. She looked just like my dad. I couldn’t believe that the worst month had turned into the greatest month of my life. After that I didn’t worry about the family I was born into because I have my own family now. I’m doing much better. My daughter is almost seven months old. My dad is always with me and my sister.

Our Brother: Herby Cheser

Story aboutHerby Cheser

Our brother lost his life to Covid-19 at the age of 68 on January 26, 2021. It broke our hearts to send him into the hospital by himself. We didn’t know that cold Sunday afternoon in January when we sent him in that it would be the last time we would see him alive. That was the hardest thing we did. I would call and talk with him on the phone. He would say they don’t know what’s going on. On Wednesday he took pneumonia during the night and they took him to the ICU, put him on a ventilator, and that was the end of his quality of life. He laid in ICU with our only updates from phone calls to the nurses who were too busy to talk to us. Call back, they would say, and, when you did, they sent you word by anyone answering the phones in the ICU.

We were called around 5:30am on January 26th to come to the hospital. He had gotten worse. By 10:43am they took him off the ventilator and he passed a few minutes later. We didn’t get to say goodbye and he never knew we were there. Oh how hard this was. He was our baby brother and we are a very close family. We will never get over this. We are so grateful for the flag on the Capitol grounds in remembrance of him. God bless his sweet heart.

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