I promise that if you or someone you love has survived Covid-19, I rejoice for you.
Likewise, if you or a loved one are among the fortunate who have received the vaccine that can protect the body from this devastating disease, I am truly happy about that.
My father, Gary D. Respers Sr., was not so fortunate.
Now every bit of good news about how we are progressing against the pandemic has been both hopeful and triggering for me.
My daddy died the night of February 18, leaving a hole in our family that can never be filled. He was 69.
The Respers family circa 1990. From left - Gary Sr., Patricia, Lisa, Gary Jr., Danielle and Kyle
He was funny, sweet, kind, hard-working, devoted to his family and as proud to be my father as I was to be his daughter.
He and my mother would have celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary this year. They were young parents. And in many ways, I feel like, as their first born, we all grew up together -- which is why I fought like hell to protect them: spending outrageous sums of money on hard-to-find Lysol products purchased from Ebay, sending masks, paying for a grocery delivery service and advising them to double mask even before that was a thing.
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But dad was on dialysis and had to leave the house three days a week to sit in a room -- socially distanced and masked -- with others for hours. In addition to his kidneys not working, my dad was also diabetic, a cancer survivor and suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
So when he and mom both fell ill, we were all naturally terrified.
She survived Covid-19 at home, but he was hospitalized and dead less than a week after he tested positive.
My family and I are now members of the worst club -- those left behind to mourn someone who didn't have to die.
Two days before the viewing for my father at a local funeral home, the governor of Maryland, my home state and where my parents have always lived, announced that 40% of Marylanders ages 65 and older had received Covid-19 vaccines.
My folks were not among that number.
Mom and I had frantically searched for appointments for her and dad. They fell ill right after her doctor's office had scheduled her to receive her first dose and we were continuing our search for dad. "We were so close to getting them vaccinated," I sobbed after the hospital called to inform me my father didn't make it.
Because of my job, I have been completely immersed in Covid-19 coverage. It feels like the tide has been turning, with death rates and hospitalizations down.
The Respers and Lyle families celebrated Lisa's wedding to Terry France in September 2001.
I am grateful not only to my CNN colleagues for how they have rallied so incredibly around me and my family, but also for the stories that helped me be a better advocate for my parents when they got sick.
Those stories now are increasingly focusing more on how there seems to be an end in sight to this nightmare, which has kept friends and family apart for a year.
It kept me from being able to travel home to bid my daddy farewell because I am high risk. Other family members had also tested positive and my mother cried to me, "I can't take one more person catching this."
As a person of faith, I prayed and fasted for my parents healing. And, though it may look different, they both were healed.
Dad isn't sick anymore, lying on his stomach with a machine having to breathe for him.
He no longer has to jab himself to take his blood sugar, inject his insulin or have his blood cleaned three times a week, which sometimes left him with infections at the site where he was hooked to the dialysis machine.
Now my prayers are for my mom, who is recovering physically but left shattered emotionally.
And I pray for all the families like ours who are left to wonder what could have been if the coronavirus had been handled differently from the onset. I also pray for those of you who are survivors -- either of the virus or the fear that comes with watching someone you love battle it and come out alive.
In the midst of my grief, I'm grateful that you don't have to endure what my loved ones and those of more than a half a million fellow Americans are going through. I only ask that you pray for and remember us as well.
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