A New Jersey couple died from the coronavirus three days apart in the same New Jersey hospital, leaving their only son — who’d quit his job to care for them — struggling to pay $10,000 for their burial and parking-lot wake.
“I’m trying to stay strong, but it’s tough,” the son, Jose Hernandez, 36, told NJ.com.
Hernandez had told each parent — Miguel, 77, and Maria, 80 — that the other was going to survive for fear that the truth would crush them in their final hours.
“They were always together, always,” he explained.
The son and his parents lived in side-by-side apartments in Elizabeth after emigrating from El Salvador in the mid-’80s.
The dad, a retired warehouse and factory worker, got sick first with a persistent cough. Then the mother, a former housekeeper and babysitter, became ill.
Hernandez, who lives with his wife and son, said he felt he had to lie to his mom and dad.
“I tell him, ‘It’s going to be OK, Dad,’ that he’s going to be home soon with Mom,” Hernandez remembered saying as EMTs loaded his father into an ambulance for a return trip to the hospital, where his wife was also failing.
Miguel died April 13.
The son said that in his final phone call to his mother days later, “I couldn’t tell her” that Miguel was dead. “I already decided I wasn’t going to tell her because it was going to cause a huge strain on her.”
Maria died April 16.
A GoFundMe has been set up to pay for a $2,500 shared burial plot and funeral services — including a parking-lot wake — that will cost $8,000.
“They were loving, humble, hard-working people their entire lives,” the son told NJ.com. “I hope I can surpass any expectations they may have had of me.”
Coronavirus often claims multiple members of a family within days of each other, in one of the pandemic’s most heartless effects.
Last week alone, a woman in Michigan lost her entire family and another New Jersey husband and wife died within days of each other in North Bergen.
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