I’ve been to enough funerals for one lifetime. Many of them have been within the past 14 months. Most of them have been from losses due to COVID-19. Some dear friends and family members. Some colleagues. Some former colleagues. I’ve been there to say goodbye to young people, older people, mothers, fathers, sisters, aunts, and cousins. Enough is enough.
A Dear Friend
She was a healthy, 29-year-old mother – my age, with a young daughter and a fiancé who were looking forward to wedding bells. It was during a time where COVID-19 was in the news, but it was still far enough away that I didn’t know anyone who had gotten it…yet. I’ll never forget the moment I got a call that this dear friend of mine was in a coma hundreds of miles from home. The doctors wouldn’t let her mother or father into the hospital to spend her last moments with her. Her mom only got to stand outside her room and watch her take her last breaths. No mother should have to watch that. No child should die alone. Her story is part of my story, and I got vaccinated because she never had the chance.
A Coworker’s Passion
She was a fighter, a survivor of kidney failure who was thriving after a kidney transplant. Wherever she went, light followed. I watched her journey through battling COVID-19 very publicly, even though I knew her and her husband personally, through work. She was the wife of a good friend who makes a living making people smile. They were soulmates. The world watched as she was placed on a ventilator for two weeks, during which time her strength was displayed for thousands of people. She fought her way off the ventilator and went home with the love of her life. I cried along with her husband as he posted a video on social media explaining how this beautiful woman was laughing next to him in bed when she suddenly took her final deep breath, and was gone. Her story is part of my story, and I got vaccinated because she never had the chance.
She was like a mother to me. I had worked with her for years in one of my old positions. Her personality was vibrant, and she lit up whatever room she was in. I doubt anyone has seen a brighter smile or been around such a genuinely warm person. She was a mother, a successful businesswoman, a wife, a friend. Her life hadn’t been easy, and she had worked hard for what she had. But she too, fell victim to COVID-19’s deadly grasp. After weeks of fighting, she took her last breaths, and something in the world seemed to be a little darker. We were all growing very tired of losing our loved ones. Our resilience was wearing thin. But still, I know what I had to do. Her story is part of my story, and I got vaccinated because she never had the chance.
Enough is Enough
When I counted how many people, I’ve lost to COVID-19, the number was obscene. One is too many, but these are just three faces of COVID-19 that have left a hole in my heart and in the hearts of their communities.
This virus has ruined graduations, birthdays, and holidays. It has wrecked families and left many of us desperately crying on our knees asking God why enough isn’t enough already? I was done being reactive. I couldn’t save all these people, but I could do my part to protect and defend those around me: my own mother who is immunocompromised, my grandmother who is high risk, my sister who is immunocompromised, my son who is high risk. It’s not worth tempting fate.
Instead of sitting idly by, there is one small thing we all can do to protect ourselves and others. Get your COVID-19 vaccine. Because you DO have a chance where so many people did not.
Sure, you might be young and healthy and think that getting COVID-19 isn’t a big deal. SO DID MY FRIEND. She died not knowing she had it because the virus robbed her of oxygen in her blood, causing her to lose consciousness. Give yourself your best chance. Get vaccinated.
Sure, you might think you’re doing a great job of avoiding it, but every day you don’t have vaccine protection is putting yourself at risk to exposure. COVID-19 is here, in our communities. It’s not going anywhere. If we want to eradicate it like the measles or smallpox, you MUST get vaccinated. We all MUST get vaccinated.
Sure, you might believe you’ll never get COVID-19; or, if you get sick, you have the money or insurance for all the different treatment options available. Trust me, COVID doesn’t discriminate. It’s a deadly virus that doesn’t care about your race, ethnicity, gender, sex, age, location, financial status or religious beliefs. Don’t take the chance. Get vaccinated.
Everyone can do their part now. Save yourself and others the pain of losing loved ones to this deadly disease. Because trust me when I say, there is a grieving mother who will never be the same and a young child who will never understand why her mommy isn’t coming home; a grieving husband who has to remind himself to keep going every single day, and a grieving family who has lost the glue that holds them together. Sadly, their stories aren’t unique.
Their stories are part of my story, and I got vaccinated because they never had the chance. You do.