“Our experience” is a series where Daily Forty-Niner reporters document their unique and nuanced experiences during this unprecedented time.
I passed my Mami Chela, my grandma, on my way to my great-grandmother’s coffin.
We stood six-feet apart from each other and cried until it felt like we could no longer stand.
From six-feet away I told my Mami Chela how much I loved her, how sorry I was that this happened. I can’t wait until all this is over to finally be able to hug her.
My great-grandmother, Sara Urena Rubio, was buried in a graveyard with only five of her eight daughters present. The rest of us got to watch through Facebook Live.
I will never take someone’s hug for granted ever again. Coronavirus has stripped so many families of their ability to mourn in a time when we are all feeling lonely.
I long to embrace my family and am looking forward to the day when I can be free of quarantine.
I hadn’t seen my great-grandmother for about a month before she passed.
COVID-19 was creeping closer and closer to home, so my family and I took the precautions we needed to. We wanted to protect my 89-year-old great-grandmother who is high risk due to her age and weak lungs.
The family agreed to not make our weekly visits to her and wait until the virus had passed.
I was half-awake trying to get up for work when my parents told me my great-grandmother had passed away at 5 a.m. while I was sleeping.
My first thought was that I needed to see her. I needed to look at her one last time and give her a proper goodbye.
My aunt Sari, who was her caretaker for the last months of her life, said she couldn’t have visitors. She didn’t want a bunch of people mourning over the body of my great-grandmother while coronavirus was around. I was furious, I channeled all my grief into screaming at my parents about how unfair it was that I wouldn’t be able to see her body one last time, screaming that I needed to see her in order to cope.
All the yelling and screaming did no good. The family started a Zoom call where we got to hear everyone’s cries and wails through the laptop speakers.
My mother and I got to try and guide my cousin on how to properly close my great-grandmother’s jaw with one of her scarfs. Family members prayed the rosary until we all got to stare at the computer screen and watch my great-grandmother’s lifeless body get taken away by the funeral home four-hours later.
As days passed, the family called every funeral home and cemetery in our area to see if we would be able to hold a viewing or a funeral. The answer every time was “no.”
No one would hold a funeral of more than five people in the time of COVID-19.
So, for the sake of our own hearts, we held a secret viewing at a ranch located in the middle of nowhere. We scheduled 15-minute time slots so families who were quarantined together could say goodbye to my great-grandmother.
Everyone arrived and waited in their cars. I just watched people walk up to my great-grandmother’s coffin and spend their last 15-minutes with her body. I was grateful for the opportunity and the “safe” risk we were all taking as a family who loved their matriarch with all their hearts.
That day turned out to be the most painful moment of my life.
Although I got to see my great-grandma one last time, I was unable to hold or comfort the rest of my family.