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As we move into the next phase of the pandemic with more than half of the state fully vaccinated, businesses reopening, and mask mandates lifting, many of us will carry an immense weight of the lives we lost to COVID-19.
There have been 17,559 COVID-19 deaths in the state since the start of the pandemic. For every death, family, friends, and loved ones mourn a member of their community. The human toll of the pandemic has left its mark on nearly everyone and we’ll continue to feel that impact of that even as we transition to the next phase of the pandemic.
We asked Boston.com readers to share their tributes to the loved ones they lost to the pandemic, and they sent in heartwarming messages. If someone you know died during the pandemic, as a result of COVID-19 or other causes, you can share your story with us here or e-mail [email protected].
Ahead, find memorials for victims of the coronavirus pandemic shared by our readers.
Responses were lightly edited for clarity.
I lost my husband of 24 years to COVID-19 on April 22, 2020. The day before Key’s 50th birthday, I rushed him to the emergency room and left him there, not knowing it would be the last time I would see him alive. When he called me from the hospital and briefly told me they were putting him on a ventilator, the call dropped and I never spoke to him again. I believe my husband was confused and really didn’t understand what was about to happen. Neither did I.
For the following three weeks me and my kids waited. I spoke with doctors and nurses everyday. Some details were positive, some were not. I felt like I was on an emotional rollercoaster. As time went by, I believe the ICU staff was preparing me for the eventual loss. On April 21, me and my kids were allowed to see Key by video. We cried and talked to him. He was a shell of the man he use to be. The next day his doctors allowed me to see Key in person. I was told his lungs were permanently damaged, his organs were shutting down, and he was not expected to survive. I held his hand, I begged him to wake up, over and over again, until I knew it was pointless. But from somewhere I knew he heard me. Once I arrived home, a call…Keyacky was gone.
My family got through our grief with help from my extended family, and friends, from a distance. My husband’s co-workers were a tremendous help, establishing a GoFundMe page that would help us get by financially. My co-workers did the same, offering me groceries, hot meals, and supplies while we were quarantined and grieving.
I cry as I type this, but not for long, because when I think of Key randomly, everyday, I think of how humble he was and kind. I think about how he made us laugh, and I think about how much he loved our kids and me. 2020 is a year I will never forget, I am positive there are plenty of people who lost a loved one similar to the way I lost Key. I share my loss to let them know they are not alone. I share my story for the ones who were lucky enough to get through this terrible virus and not experience loss.
Today I look forward to my son’s high school graduation, it will be bittersweet without his Dad, but I know he will be there in spirit. The Westwood School District and community was a great support for my son and myself during my husband’s hospitalization and his death. It was difficult to share my story, but I think Key deserves it.— Daeisha White, Roxbury
I will never forget the day I met Harry Jones, behind a bar cracking jokes making pitchers of sangria. The light in his eyes shone brighter than I ever encountered. After two weeks of knowing him, he told me he was the man I would marry. It took him eight years to convince me, and his eyes shone with tears the day he knelt to propose, marking the happiest day of my life. We never got the chance to be married or begin our new life together as COVID-19 stole him 2 weeks past his 36th birthday. I will never forget his hand on my knee as I drove, the way his eyes crinkled when he laughed, the way he captured every room with his positive energy, his soulful “I love you,” and all the nights we spent dreaming of our future together. Harry Jones, we love you, we miss you, and we carry your memories with us every second of every day.— Malia Milstein, Boston
John Kwan, my brother, was a simple man who loved movies and movie reviews.
To avoid the summer heat of Hong Kong, he would take me as a child to watch films of different genres — from Mysterious Island to Dr. Zhivago, from Bridge on the River Kwai to the Prisoner of Zenda.
He would share each movie review with me before I saw the movie. To this day, I still remember the ratings each movie got from the Hong Kong newspapers, along with the praises and the criticisms.
Unintentionally, he taught me to embrace diversity and to appreciate talent from different backgrounds. If not for his mental and physical health, he would have loved to be a movie critic or run a local cinema.
This I learned from a simple man.— Anthony Kwan, Reading
“My husband [was] Robert McDonough. Father of three grown children and 9 grandchildren. Died of COVID-19 on Jan 5, 2021. Never able to see him. His death was a shock to us. No funeral, no closure. My children, grandchildren and myself are shattered.” — Anonymous
I lost my mother, Mary Ann Armstrong of Bedford (formerly of Lexington) in June of 2020. My mother had the brightest smile and was one of the smartest people I knew. She loved to read, was an avid Scrabble player, and had a dry and sometimes naughty sense of humor. She was my biggest champion and never missed any of my musical performances — I’ll miss seeing her in the audience, cheering me on with her warm and loving smile.— Melanie Armstrong, Chelsea
I lost my mom. She was 96-years-old and had dementia but otherwise very healthy before COVID-19. The part that will always be painful is she died alone. I’m afraid she didn’t understand why her children weren’t by her side.— Melissa Goodell, Wareham
Constance ‘Connie’ DiClemente was a beloved mother and grandmother. She lost her battle to COVID-19 on April 24, 2020 while residing at Meadowgreen Nursing Home in Waltham. She lived with Alzheimer’s for over 10 years and continued to put a smile on everyone’s face until the very end. Her passing was very hard on our family and many things did not go as planned. The last time we saw her was in person at a distance (from the parking lot) on her birthday, April 11th, when she turned 86 years old. We love and miss her everyday.— Alicia Tardiff, Watertown
“My dad, who lived in Dumas, Texas, was assistant manager of a local Lowe’s Marketplace. I am the youngest of three children so my Dad was my pride and joy who could do no wrong in my eyes. He was always there for me through thick and thin. He was a wonderful family guy who loved his family — especially my mom, for 64 years. God had a room ready for him on September 8, 2020 at the age of 86. He died from pneumonia caused by COVID-19. No one can ever replace him.” — Jean Spencer, Plymouth
My name is Ronnie Plummer, I’m a native of Boston specifically the town of Roslindale and I lost a loved one from COVID-19 in March 2021. The loved one was my brother Willie J. Plummer who resided in Roslindale. He was a military veteran of more than 20 years and an iron worker with Boston Iron Worker Local 7. He was a special person, a loving brother and father who will be truly missed. The memory I hold the most is that of a brother who inspired me to make family a priority in life.— Ronnie Plummer, Boston
I lost my favorite uncle. I’ll always remember that afternoon in March when he showed me around this park in Mexico. He told me all about what once stood there, the history of the area, and about growing up there. He was so interesting and full of stories. He loved his family.— Tera, Del Rio
Our beloved father, grandfather, brother, friend, educator, and happy resident of Dorchester returned home to God and reunited with the love of his life, the late Anna Nguyễn Thị Thu Hương, on January 26, 2021 surrounded by his loving children. Vincent was born in Ninh Binh, Viet Nam, studied Law, and as an officer in the South Vietnamese army, started anew in the United States after the Vietnam War.
He graduated from Wentworth Institute of Technology in 1984, worked at Raytheon, and then finally as an educator of special needs students in the Boston Public Schools for over 30 years. He knows his beloved students are a part of the reason he remained able and working until his retirement in June 2020. Many people remember his great smile, big heart and hard work through his participation at Saint Ambrose Church, Planet Fitness in Neponset, Pope John Paul Park and the Richard J. Murphy School. While he fought in the Vietnam War, traveled the world and held multiple degrees, his greatest accomplishment was the way he loved and provided for his children.— Joanne Tran Cevik, Dorchester
My best friend from first grade. We are 64 now. Mitch Simon was like a brother to me. We both became chiropractors. As a kid we walked to and from high school together two miles each way ever day. Went to camp together and took many a vacations together. Mitch died Feb. 1 from COVID-19, three weeks after contracting it.— Peter G. Hill, Weston
“Frank was a son, brother, uncle, and significant other. He had polio so his whole life was lived in pain and discomfort. He loved looking for bargains at the Christmas Tree Shops and Ocean State Job Lot. He was always prepared for anything — he did things BEFORE they needed to be done. For example, the night before he went into the hospital, he called his niece to discuss his life insurance.” — Anonymous
I lost my dad. He was a U.S. Navy veteran and he spent his last two years living at the soldier’s home in Chelsea. He loved Werther’s candies — he would have a devious grin on his face as he reached into his pocket and grab a candy to hand to someone and it was going to make them smile. He was always kind. He was the strong silent type with the biggest smile and a sparkle in his eye. He was someone who never had a bad word to say about anyone. He was loved and respected by all that met him and he gave you his time without question. He never said no to anyone who needed anything. This is something, as his daughter, I try to remember and live by.— Terri DiOrio, Chelsea
I am an interfaith chaplain at Newton-Wellesley Hospital. Beginning in August 2020, 150 hospital colleagues and I ran one mile for each patient we lost to COVID-19. Many of us continue to run for them even now and we’ll always carry them in our hearts. In the picture attached is a ribbon and list of names that I carry with me on runs.— Alyssa Adreani, Walpole
I lost my Dad to COVID-19 on June 11, 2020 and although I knew the virus was deadly, I was still shocked to hear the words “your Dad has died.” He had been a resident at a nursing home battling dementia for four years, and when he caught COVID we hoped he would recover. When he suddenly worsened, he was transferred to a COVID recovery facility. When the ambulance arrived at the nursing home to transfer him, my family yelled his name from a distance, and he raised his arm in acknowledgment. Our hearts momentarily lifted.
That evening we FaceTimed with him since we were not allowed to visit in person. Although it was gut wrenching to see him so weak with his eyes closed, when we yelled his name, we saw his mouth move as he tried to speak. We took solace in knowing he heard our voices. The next day he died. My brother and I visited him to celebrate his birthday on March 9 and took him for a lovely drive along the coast of Cohasset where we were raised. That was the last time we saw him in person. Soon after the nursing home stopped allowing visitors.
My Dad was a loving, generous man who was always invested in the happiness of his family. I love you Dad and miss you very much.— Philip Bernstein, Boston
I lost my father to COVID in February. My Dad taught me so much: study hard, work hard, save money, stay out of debt, don’t sweat the things you can’t control, enjoy life, reduce stress, be loyal, take care of your family, keep promises, love your pets, enjoy food.
My mom, Geraldine “Gerry” Chagnon, lost to COVID-19 on May 5, 2020, three days after she was infected with the virus. She lived in a nursing facility that lost 40% of its residents to COVID-19.
My mom was dedicated, loyal and honest to the core. Her four children, seven grandchildren, friends, and church were her greatest loves. She fought bravely through disability in her 50s and cancer in her 80s. She wasn’t afraid to die, but she wanted to live in spite of her daily pain and loss of independence. Her legacy is her children, all of whom adore and cherish her.— Gerri Bellavia, Melrose
Boston.com will continue to honor the memories of the people we’ve lost to the pandemic. Is there someone you want to remember as we move forward? Let us know who this person was, what they meant to you, and share the stories you don’t want to be forgotten in the Boston.com survey below or e-mail [email protected], and we’ll continue to update this article with your tributes.
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