Julie encouraged their other daughter, Camille, 10, to write some stories about her father. – Then you won’t forget it, said Julie.
Camille categorically refused. “I will never forget a minute of my life with my best friend,” she recently told her mother. Julie had to walk away to be able to cry.
Camille regularly calls Mallory, via FaceTime. They speak, as only the sisters can.
Julie joined a Facebook group for people like her. “I’m not unique,” she said. “I am not an anomaly. I am fortunate to have lost only one person.
Recently, after a friend shared US COVID statistics on their Facebook wall, another called the deaths of more than 600,000 people “natural selection.” Mallory was chatting online with people familiar with her father’s death when someone posted “COVID is not real.”
Video: National Mall covered in 660,000 white flags representing COVID deaths in the United States
” He is dying ” : Mallory Dunlap’s cry for help for the loving father and how Lewis Dunlap fought to protect his family from COVID
Julie reached her limit with such cruelty.
“I can’t take it anymore,” she said. “The devastation is unreal. I push back more. People will ask, “What other medical conditions did your husband have? Lew had a full medical exam just three weeks before his death. He had COVID. She pauses. ” I’m just tired. And I have a 10 year old child. And I want to be safe.
Julie had spoken to the country’s coroner shortly after Lewis’ death. “He died of a blood clot. He was better, then he left. The coroner told her there was nothing she could have done. She tries to believe it.
Julie says she hears a different Mallory when her daughter talks about work these days. “She would come home complaining about how she had to remind people to wear their masks,” says Julie. “Now she’s telling people to leave if they don’t want to hide. “
For months after her father’s death, Mallory was terrified of contracting COVID – not for herself, but for Julie. “We couldn’t expose my mother,” she says. “And we had to wait for the vaccine. When people say that getting vaccinated is a ‘choice’, it makes me angry. My father would have received the vaccine as soon as he could.
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Like her father had done, Mallory was counting the days until she could be vaccinated. She and a few friends rushed for a chance to get it when it was learned that a few doses would expire soon if no one showed up for them.
The vaccine brought relief, but no joy.
“It was just close,” she says. “The timing, for daddy. It was so close.
Julie is also vaccinated. As the delta variant increases, she worries again. About a month ago, she caught a bad cold. A friend brought a bunch of COVID tests. Each time the test was negative, but Julie’s anxiety grew.
“I have reached a point of hysteria,” she said. “I started to doubt the test results. Maybe they are out of date. I may have forgotten how to use them. She was afraid for Camille. “I know I’m not going to lose a child. I know this is irrational. It doesn’t mean it’s not my life.
She can describe what she wants to hear from people after finding out Lewis died of COVID: “I want them to say, ‘We don’t want to lose anymore, so I’ll do what it takes. That’s all I ask. Please do what you can to protect each other.
A few weeks ago, Julie was lining up to check in at a hotel for one of Camille’s softball games on the road. The man standing in front of her berated the receptionist for insisting he wear a mask.
In search of an ally, he turned to Julie.
“My husband died of COVID,” she told him. “Don’t talk to me without wearing a mask. “
He did not apologize for his behavior. He expressed no sympathy. Not while “I’m sorry”.
But this man turned around, fell silent and put on his mask.
It was not enough. But at that point, that was it.
USA TODAY columnist Connie Schultz is a Pulitzer Prize winner whose novel, “The Daughters of ErietownIs a New York Times bestseller. You can reach her at [email protected] or on Twitter: @ConnieSchultz
You can read various opinions from our Council of contributors and other writers on the First page of the opinion, on Twitter @usatodayopinion and in our daily opinion bulletin. To respond to a column, send a comment to [email protected]
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: What life is like after the COVID death of a loved one.