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On the morning of May 10th, Mother’s Day, my father lost his 18-day battle with the coronavirus. He left behind not only a devastated family, but hundreds of lives he touched. 

My father was the old man with the beard, armed with a quick wit and an infectious smile he charmed his way into the hearts of everyone he met. He brightened every path he crossed, and no one who met  him would ever forget him.

To me, he was Dad. A role model and an inspiration. The most amazing grandfather to my kids and the happy voice who would greet me every day when I came home from work.

I drove him to the hospital the night COVID began its war on his body. It was a long drive through the  streets of New York to get him there and I struggled to make small talk, something which was never an issue for us.

He didn’t respond much and at one point he even apologized saying speaking took too much energy. I wasn’t used to this, since my dad loved to talk, and I loved talking to him. We talked about everything from his love of history to my work in the NYC subways. 

Since the start of the pandemic and the shutdown of the city, I was deemed an essential worker. This  meant I was excluded from the rules and stay at home orders.

Furthermore, caring for my parents and kids, I was the designated shopper. Getting supplies and food, sanitizing everything that came into the  house, me going out while my family stayed inside.

We’ll never know for sure how my father caught the virus, and I’ll be left my life wondering if something I did brought it into the house and caused his death. 

Life since early March has been nothing short of a nightmare, and at times, such as when I got sick myself, was worse.

As we fielded calls with the hospital, and video chats when possible with dad, I fought off the fever, headaches and the worst body aches I’ve ever known.

Those weeks of me being sick and my father in the hospital was a horrible blur, and although time has slowed, it hasn’t gotten better in some ways. Restrictions are easing, but my own personal fear for my loved ones safety hasn’t. 

A new aspect to this virus has arisen as well, because now I have to hear all those who call this a hoax, a  conspiracy and a fake illness. Those who died were going to die anyway, right? Herd immunity sounds  great unless that includes your father. 

I will continue to remember my dad, John Walter and the other over 200,000 victims to a virus which is not a hoax or a conspiracy or a fake Illness. I’ll speak out for friends, for grandfathers, fathers,  sons, daughters, mothers and grandmothers. I am here for those who cannot be. I miss you dad.

– Brian Walter

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