The following personal essay about grief and testament to why we should wear masks during the COVID-19 pandemic was originally written by my brother, Jesse Nguyen. I’m reposting with his permission.
Question: What song did we play after the ventilator was removed from my father and while we watched him take his final breaths? What was my parents’ favorite song they sang to each other?
Since COVID-19 has restricted visitors in hospitals, preventing patients from seeing their loved ones, my mom and I have talked about how lucky we are that my father passed away before COVID-19 became a pandemic. Its an ironic and conflicting feeling.
After my dad’s hemorrhagic stroke, every day, hour, minute, and second we could be with him was a gift. Between my mom, sister, and me, my dad was never alone during every waking hour. We were there when he first woke, there to comfort him. We constantly asked him if he remembered us, if he loved us, if he knew we loved him, if he remembered our names. We were there to push him and cheer him on during every speech, physical, and occupational therapy. All of my dad’s accomplishments during his recovery was a celebration to us, a “YES!” moment.
We were there when he wanted to quit. We were there when he said, “I love you.” We were there when he looked out and called for his mother. We were there when he had pneumonia 6 times. We were there for his 7th and last. We were there to say goodbye.
The years before my dad passed away, I thought I could prepare myself for the inevitable loss of my parents to soften the pain. I was not ready, the times just dragged me forward unwillingly and reality was there the whole time to make itself known. The reality was there to also remind me of all of the blessings we had during the tumultuous times. All of the blessings revolved around the ability to be physically there by my dad for his remaining days, hours, minutes, and seconds.
I cannot imagine the pain of being in the hospital suffering alone and isolated from my loved ones. Nor can I imagine being unable to see my loved ones while they suffer alone in the hospital. These pains I would not wish on the devil himself.
All of this to say, it angers me to see and read about those who are not practicing social distancing or wearing masks because they need to go out and socialize or they refuse to be told what to do. To lack the patience to do what is necessary and to ignore the consequences of infecting others or loved ones and to potentially put others in the hospital alone suffering or worse dying is something I do not respect. I hope these words can offer perspective and compel everyone to be kind and considerate in their actions.
Answer to opening question: Stevie Wonder’s “I Just Called To Say I Love You”
Many thanks to my brother for sharing that essay. It made me cry reading it. If you are suffering from grief, I shared a list of 10 books that helped me feel less alone in my grief. For more typical content, try my Ultimate Guide to the Triangle.
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