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My husband and I flew to Manila on March 9, 2020 to bring my mom home. COVID-19 was already on the news. Every day that we listened to news we were assured that there’s nothing to be afraid of. That it’s under control. I even have some friends asked me if I’m going to cancel our trip because of COVID-19. We didn’t cancel our trip because there’s nothing to be afraid of. When we got to the Philippines, March 10th, it’s a different story. Their Department of Health issued an early warning. The nursing home that my mom was going to is already in lock-down. They want my Mom to quarantine in 14 days. We are only staying in the Philippines for 12 days. Long story short – after a lot of begging and explaining that my Mom doesn’t have a place to go to, the nursing home finally allowed her to check-in to the facility, but I won’t see her anymore because they are in lock down. I think they felt my disappointment, so they allowed me to come visit her if I take a shower in the facility before I come in the home. (They have a shower in their backyard). I did that for 1 week. On March 15, 2020 the President of the Philippines declared that the whole country will be in lockdown. Any foreigners who wants to leave need to leave within 72 hours. My husband and I scrambled to have our flight re-scheduled. Our original flight was supposed to be March 22nd, a few days short of the total lockdown. The following day the President of the Philippines changed his policy – outbound flights will be allowed. We managed to re-book our flight a day earlier. We left Manila, Philippines on March 21st, arrived NYC early morning of March 22nd. We travelled to Pittsburgh on March 22nd to pick up our youngest daughter who was away in college. We drove back the same day. We didn’t stay there overnight. My husband and I were not sick that time. We were tired and jet-lagged but not sick. On Wednesday March 25th, my husband, Gil, had a fever. He called his doctor. His doctor told him to come in to be tested. He was really surprised that they have COVID-19 testing at their office. Gil asked me to drive him to the doctor’s office, but I wasn’t feeling well myself. I don’t have fever yet but very tired. I thought it was the jet-lagged. He drove himself because he didn’t want to expose our kids to the virus if he has it. On Thursday, March 26th I already had a fever – 103.6. I called my doctor. She told me that she’s not testing me because whatever my husband has – I have it too. She prescribed me with hydroxychloroquine. I started taking that day. My husband wasn’t prescribed with anything. I don’t know why. Friday and Saturday, we were both really sick. I thought that I was a lot sicker. I lost my sense of smell and taste. I slept all day. I don’t remember much from those days. Our kids told me that my husband was at least eating more than I do. On Saturday, March 28th before my husband went to bed, he told me that he’s having a diarrhea and going to eat apple. I said “ok”. On Sunday, March 29th, I was awakened by my husband’s phone alarm. I tried waking him up a couple of times until I realized that he’s non-responsive. I called our son. He gave him CPR while I was calling 911. The EMT did everything but he’s already gone!

My husband is the love of my life, my best friend, good father of our 3 kids, friend to a lot of people, a tireless worker, and a good servant in our church. How could this happen to him? Maybe if we were given enough warning on how bad this virus is, maybe he would still be alive today.

– Marico Nollora, New Jersey

Man glasses smiling