Woman loses four of her family to Covid | Life

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Like many, Danielle Lilly still remembers the fear and uncertainty of the early days of Covid-19.

“You would receive updates every day,” she said, recalling watching West Virginia Governor Jim Justice’s daily briefings on Covid-19. “No one in County Raleigh has it. Now there is one. And two. And seven. And I remember how scared I was.

“I didn’t like it at all. “

Schools and businesses were closed for those first few weeks, and Lilly asked her husband if he minded if she and their four children traveled to Florida to visit her parents and grandparents.

“Not that it wasn’t happening there,” she said. “I just wanted to get away from the reality of fear.”

His plan worked too.

Over time, although the numbers increased, Lilly said she could feel the fear and tension going away.

And that’s how the Shady Spring resident spent much of the next 16 months – on the move and away from fear, living as usual.

“I have made a lot of life, I will say,” she said. “My family, we travel a lot, but during Covid we probably traveled a lot, a lot more.

“I wasn’t really scared of this or this virus,” she continued. “At first. And neither did my family.

“It wasn’t until it hit my family that it woke me up.”

I’m going

It started with his aunt.

“She died of Covid on December 2, 2020,” Lilly said of her mother’s sister who lived in Tennessee.

Her 65-year-old aunt had been diagnosed with cancer a few months earlier and had just started chemotherapy when she tested positive for Covid at the end of November.

“She caught Covid and pneumonia, and she died within days,” Lilly said.

And because her aunt’s immune system was weakened by cancer and chemotherapy, Lilly said she thought it helped some people wonder how dangerous Covid could be.

“I feel like a lot of people didn’t feel like she really died from Covid, but had a weakened immune system and caught a ‘cold’,” she said .

Her aunt died just weeks before the vaccine rollout began, but Lilly said her family was not interested in receiving the Covid-19 vaccines.

At least not yet.

“It was something that I felt like I needed more information,” she said. “I thought, you know, that more and more people get it and we’ll see how many people get sick, then we’ll pass judgment.

“And I was just living my life and doing our thing.”

Lilly has always been close to her family.

She grew up in the small town of Keystone Heights, Florida, halfway between Jacksonville and Gainesville, where her parents and grandparents built homes on the same property.

“I lived next to them (grandparents) my whole life until I moved here about 19 years ago,” she said.

Even with the distance, she often ventured back and forth and her parents Michael and Marsha Ricketts did the same, even joining her family on vacation.

In fact, when Lilly left Florida after the first Covid hit, her parents then spent the summer with her family in Colorado, where she and her husband have a rental home.

This is where Lilly was in late July when Covid reunited with her family for the second time.

I’m going

“I think it was July 20, somewhere in there,” Lilly said of the day it started.

Her 89-year-old grandmother, Betty Norris, had been in hospice care for years and the family believed she was dying.

“We weren’t really sure, but we felt like a family came down from Tennessee,” she said.

Back in Colorado with her husband and children, Lilly spoke with her father on the phone.

“My dad said he had a runny nose and my grandfather had a runny nose,” she said. “He told me he thought it was allergies, but it was weird, I think, having allergies in mid-July in Florida.”

She told her father he might want to keep his distance from others and reminded him that a runny nose can mark the early stages of Covid.

But it was too late.

“Well at that point I guess almost everyone kind of figured it out,” she said, listing family members who had contracted Covid-19. “My father, my uncle, who is my mother’s brother, my grandfather, my grandmother, my niece and my mother.”

Lilly’s uncle, 62, spent a week in the hospital and her former sister-in-law was hospitalized for four days.

She said that they, her father and her niece are doing well now.

But August was a difficult month for her family.

Before the end of the month, his grandmother, grandfather and mother all lost their lives to Covid.

I’m going

Lilly’s “Grandmother Betty” was the first, as she passed away on August 1st.

At that time, her family was staying with her grandparents, “squatting” and taking care of each other.

Lilly said she and her two brothers worried about their parents – especially their father, who served almost 30 years in the military – throughout the pandemic.

“We were more worried that my father would almost catch Covid,” she said, explaining that her mother was not taking any medication and was still considered the healthier of the two.

But it became clear very quickly, she said, that her mother was going through a difficult time as her blood oxygen level was dropping, she was taking an unusual nap and struggling to breathe.

Lilly said she encouraged her mother to see a doctor in case she needed respiratory or steroid treatment, but her mother resisted as long as she could.

“It was probably 2 am when she finally left,” she recalls, explaining that she had asked her mother to go all day. “But by then, what I was telling him was probably too late.”

It was August 8 when Marsha Ricketts was hospitalized.

Her 91-year-old father, Lilly’s “grandfather Al”, was admitted a few days later.

“He had blood clots and pneumonia,” Lilly said. “You know, the Covid stuff.”

Alvin Ricketts died on August 15, but his daughter did not know.

She had been intubated four days earlier, on Lilly’s 40th birthday.

I’m going

Lilly was at her home in Shady Spring on August 27 when she said she knew she had to go to Florida.

“I was sitting in bed and I had this heaviness, in my opinion it was the Holy Spirit, it was like rushing to come home and see my dad,” she said. .

She had no doubts her mother would be okay. Her mother had told her that before she was intubated.

“I can’t tell you how hopeful I was that she came out of the fan,” she said. “I had peace about it. I dreamed of it. I was really like, ‘My mom is getting out of the fan.’ “

She returned home the next day and surprised her father. Her timing was good because her mother, who had recently taken baby steps, came downstairs that same evening.

Lilly said they knew what it meant when they got a call to visit the hospital, where no visitors were allowed.

“They told us, ‘If we call you it’s probably the end of their life,’” she said. “So we went to see her on Saturday night and we went to see her on Sunday when she died.

“We missed it by an hour.”

I’m going

It’s not easy for Lilly to figure out how much has been lost in a single month.

“I don’t even know if I cried for my grandmother and my grandfather because of the loss of my mother,” she said, starting to cry. “I’m sad. I was definitely close to my grandmother and grandfather. Very close, but I don’t know if it’s striking enough that they left because it’s so devastating that my mother is gone.

Lilly said she learned that Covid is “no ordinary cold.” It’s not the flu, ”as she might have thought it was sometimes the case before.

“You don’t know who this virus is going to benefit from,” she said.

And although she and her family previously had no interest in receiving the Covid-19 vaccine, she is now fully vaccinated, as are her father, brothers and husband.

It was the day after her grandfather’s death that she received her first injection.

She said she knew many people were for and against vaccination for different reasons, but it was a conversation with her brother while her mother was still in the hospital that told her she was doing the right thing. choice.

“I told her that I was very annoyed that God did not heal my mother,” she recalls. “I know he is the creator of the universe. He created us. He could do that. It was something he could do and I believed him. His word says if you believe it, even if you’ve got the faith of a mustard seed, that he can make it happen. And I prayed to him and spoke and I believed him. I believed him and why not him?

“And my brother looked at me and said, ‘He did. He gave her what she should have had, and it’s called a vaccine. This is what they ask people to get.

“… When my brother told me that, I think it hit me where I needed to hear it,” she continued. “What if the God who created this whole world was the God who gathers the scientists together to try to stop this thing and there is no program?” What if there isn’t a program that everyone wants to believe in? What if there was a Creator and a God who wanted us to make choices to help? “

I’m going

Lilly said she wasn’t proud of the fact that it wasn’t that long ago that she was a bit of a “rebel” when it came to both masking and vaccines. But today, she “asks for forgiveness” and takes great care not to unknowingly carry the virus to someone else’s door.

“I didn’t get the shot for me,” she said, starting to cry. “I got this shot because I want it to end with me. I don’t want this to affect someone else’s house the same way it affects mine.

And she said her loss encouraged others to do the same, as she lost count of the number of people who told her they made the choice to get the vaccine because of her family.

She said it was bittersweet.

“I’m glad people are moved in one way or another for my mom,” she said. “I hate it to be like this, and I don’t want anyone else to be moved to get the shot because someone had to die.”

That’s why she shares her story.

“I hope those who are faltering and uncertain, maybe this story, my mother’s life, my grandparents’ life and my aunt’s life will tell them it’s real and push them to take a good choice.”

– Email: mjames @

register-herald.com


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