JACKSON, Mich. — This week's Good Neighbors are a group of individuals who don't want you to forget the thousands of Michiganians who died because of COVID. Laura Canfield is one of the organizers who created a COVID memorial.
"I lost my son Freddy Garza in November. He was 42 years old when he got COVID. He went to the hospital and never came out."
We first introduced you to Laura this past March after she lost her son. She shared her plans to honor her son Freddy and the thousands of other Michiganders who have died during the pandemic.
Laura and her daughter-in-law Cheryl Garza, Freddy's wife, came up with the idea of a COVID memorial. It's a wall of hearts with the names of people who have lost their lives to the virus.
Each heart also represents a story. Cheryl says it's a way to remember her husband.
"He and I had had a conversation that really struck home one day because he had asthma. And it was in March before he passed in November. In March, we were talking about it. And he said, 'If I get this, I'm not going to make it. I'll be on a ventilator. And I'll be alone.' And that's exactly what played out in November."
Cheryl and Laura started The COVID memorial earlier this year. Since then, they have added more than 200 hearts with names of individuals who lost their lives to COVID.
Marcus Keach helps to keep the COVID Memorial in Jackson updated.
"A lot of times you'll hear the little kids, they'll ask the questions, 'what's going on? What is that?' You'll hear their parents explain to them, and their eyes kind of fill a little bit. It's a realization. I love hearing from the families and seeing the difference it makes for them. As you can see, in one of the hearts behind us, you have kids that wrote on the heart and to their dad. That means a lot."
Rosa Linda Calley lost her older brother to COVID.
"My brother, he just liked to hang out with people he was. He was social. He loved to be with people. That's us with our mom."
Don Hill lost his wife to the virus early in the pandemic. He says he is grateful for the Michigan COVID Memorial.
"When Nancy was in the hospital, they told me so many times we don't know what to do. And they didn't! And these people need to be remembered because they went through something that none of us ever had to do and hopefully never have to do."
"I didn't want my family, my husband Freddy, to be recognized as just a number. It was already a tough blow not being able to be at the hospital, not being able to be with him, not being able to support him, have to talk to him over the telephone. And then to get a phone call that he's passed. And you have to get there now. People started becoming numbers. And it was just a count. And the count kept rising and rising and rising. For me, it was at some point that I said, somebody's got to recognize that these are our family members. These are our loved ones. And that's how this started."
Cheryl says the last communication she had with her husband was via text.
He wrote I love you. This is it!
Cheryl and Laura want to create a permanent Michigan COVID Memorial in Lansing.
In the meantime, they say they want to continue to recognize the people who lost their lives to this virus - and be a support system for their family members.
If you would like more information on the Michigan COVID Memorial, visit the COVID Memorial website at http://www.michigancovidmemorial.com
We want to send our love and well wishes to all those who have lost loved ones to the pandemic. Our hearts are with you. We want to thank the organizers of the Michigan COVID Memorial, who are this week's Good Neighbors.
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