This part is written by co-founder Adrienne J. Romero. 

“He’s not going to make it.” 

That’s a phrase you never want to hear, but it’s one that thousands of people have heard since March, the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

But now, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced the reopening of indoor dining, movie theaters and gyms at a 25 percent capacity this Friday. Other indoor capacities like weddings and funerals can now have 150 people or 25 percent capacity.

The presence of COVID-19, a respiratory tract infection once feared throughout the country, seems to be losing its credibility. Beaches are flooded. House parties are packed. And outdoor diners don’t seem to mind being elbow-to-elbow with one another. 

But it’s sad. The harshness of reality won’t hit you until you hear:

“He’s not going to make it.”

That’s what the doctor said on Friday, Aug. 28.

And the one who wasn’t going to make it was one of my best friends’ father. I’ve known the two since I was 7 years old. I’m 22 now. 

His father joined the Jersey City police department in 1995. But aside from being a Jersey City detective, he was politically active and a leader in the Dominican community. Hell, he helped create the annual city Dominican Independence Day celebration. 

As one person said, he wasn’t “an ordinary cop.” 

He announced his retirement on Jan. 31 of this year. 

He didn’t even get to enjoy it — not as much as he should have. 

Right now, he should’ve been at home with his family, watching the New York Yankees and praying they keep their winning streak. He should’ve been keeping up with the NFL offseason and seeing who the Dallas Cowboys may or may not be picking up. He should’ve been watching the NBA playoffs, cracking a joke or two about LeBron James. 

His father (standing in the back) threw him a surprise birthday party when he turned 12 years old. I’ll never forget the look on either of their faces.

He should’ve been smiling at me, calling me, “AJ,” as we laugh in the living room and make fun of his son, like we always have. He treated me like his own daughter since I was 7 years old. 

Him and his son were best friends. They are best friends. They’re each other’s worlds. He should not be going through this right now. But he is. 

This virus is ruthless, aggressive and unpredictable. As of Monday at 4 p.m., the state recorded 14,165 COVID-19 related deaths. Eight of those deaths are new. 

My best friend’s father died Saturday, Aug. 29 in the afternoon.

His father always did everything to make him and his friends happy. This was around 2013 when the Super Bowl was in New York. His father took us to see the event in NYC. (Middle: Adrienne)

These people are more than a number. They lived, breathed, laughed and cried just like you. 

Take the proper precautions, stay at home if you can and protect the people you love — that’s how you’ll never have to get that call. 

This part is written by editor Amanda Sanchez.

“They just called, and I have it.” 

My mom is a call center supervisor who worked five days a week at North Hudson Community Action Corporation (NHCAC). She helped as many people as she could aside from her department. 

She was worried about contracting Covid-19 because she already has a compromised immune system. Along with so many health issues and procedures she’s had, this was something she was trying to avoid. 

“My head hurts and I’ve been feeling weak for a while now every time I get back from work.”

My mom started saying that in late March — March 28 from what I remember. 

Since she was having symptoms of COVID, they told her to not go back to work, stay home and get tested. She stayed home that Friday, got tested that Monday. Her results came in that Thursday at 7 p.m. 

My sister and I walked into the living room, she got up, and started yelling, screaming and punching the door. I screamed at her back to stop and calm down, but how could I? She just received the worst news possible. 

This could take her life. 

So many thoughts were rushing through her head: What if I leave my children without a mother? What if I die like everyone else around me? 

We already lost a family friend two weeks prior to it as well, along with a parent of a friend of mine. 

After that night, it was somber in my home. A cloud swept over us and I was trying to keep everyone calm. It was worse because my sister and mom have anxiety, and I am more level headed when it comes to serious situations. I always figure out what to do at the end to keep everyone sane. 

My uncle and aunt constantly call my mom to tell her to get up and keep moving, but my mom’s depression once again kicked in. She didn’t feel like doing anything, but I would be stern with her everyday and say: 

“If you don’t get up now, it will take your life.”

(Sumen Imtiaz / SoCul)

Seeing her like that was the most heartbreaking thing ever, though my sister and I saw my mom in pain from having issues with her body and mental health. 

My sister and I had to quarantine ourselves as soon as we found out. I told my manager and he said: 

“However long you guys need, please take care of your mother. Please keep me updated.”

I am very grateful to work in a place where I feel like everyone there is my family. I could have been let go along with my sister because we did not go to work all of April, just like many people during that time. My manager and all of my coworkers at the gas station sent their prayers and I couldn’t be more grateful. 

My sister’s birthday, April 7, I spent it going to the pharmacy three times and again keeping my sister calm. She would cry to me saying she didn’t want to lose our mom. I told her I wasn’t going to let that happen. 

To make her feel special, I ordered a cake from Carvel and when it arrived, she cried in my arms. That was a little moment of happiness that we shared through the midst of constantly being worried. 

All of April my mom was getting up in the middle of the night, early mornings, always drinking tea, going to doctor’s appointments, my uncle dropping off a steamer so she could breathe better, but my mom pushed us all away at one point. I was angry she was acting like a child at some points. I didn’t baby her, I pushed her to be stronger, telling her to do things for herself. 

End of April, she starts to show some positive signs. She was up and cleaning, making jokes, and started to have color in her skin again. She wasn’t coughing as much and was walking around faster. 

Things were starting to look good. 

Amanda (left) with her sister and mother.

As she went to the doctors, she was told that the COVID left a small tear in her lung, which no one told her about because they assumed it was something else. 

She’s taking four different medications for her breathing, lungs, anxiety and her cough. They gave her an inhaler. She still uses a breathing machine and she can’t go outside for more than an hour with her mask because she can not breathe.

She has PTSD from COVID, and she was recently let go due to multiple extensions from her job. 

But she is COVID free. 

She is still very anxious around many people, and I see the anxiety in her eyes whenever I come home from work. 

Please get tested. It may not have affected you, but it has affected someone. Keep your distance if you don’t have a mask. Go out with caution. If you do work or have to go out for whatever reason, get tested. It’s the least anyone can do. 

Take it from a person who experienced first hand with a loved one. I don’t wish the thought of potentially losing a parent on anyone. Be considerate of your peers and the people around you. 

 

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