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My partner for 33 years and I spent the winter in Delray Beach, Florida. At the beginning of March Stephen had gone to the hospital because i had found him unconscious in the bathroom. He went through a series of tests. He was being treated atrial fibrillation. He was in the hospital for over a week, was transferred to rehab and was on oxygen. I was told he has COPD and needed the oxygen. Stephen never smoked and I could not understand why his oxygen level was in the high 80s and low 90s. On March 19th, he came home. At this point, he was confused, his oxygen level was low even with the oxygen being given to him. On March 23rd, he was brought back to the hospital. I never saw Stephen again. I was told he was on a ventilator and on March 28th I was told his organs were going and I gave permission to take him off the ventilator. He died a little while later. The most difficult part is knowing that I was not there holding Steve’s hand. I was nit there to be his advocate. I was not there to kiss him for the last time and to say goodbye. Two days after his passing the pulmonary doctor called and informed me that Stephen was tested for COVID. I was unable to see him at the funeral parlor. Since NYC was having such a difficult time with COVID, I could not go up north to Steve’s burial. I am so proud of My daughter, Jessica who did a beautiful job at Steve’s funeral. Two of Steve’s friends attended as there was a limit to the amount of people who were allowed at the burial. A few months after his passing, Stephen was recognized by the media. He was in a very famous photo as he ran from the smoke during 9/11. He survived 9/11 but was unable to survive the Covid pandemic.

Janet Rashes, New York 

Elder couple smiling