My uncle’s battle against COVID-19

I just lost my uncle to COVID-19. I am writing this to honor him because I cannot leave the country to travel to Canada to see him, I could not visit him in the hospital when he needed us the most, I cannot attend his funeral, and I could not tell him in person how much I love him and appreciate everything he has done for me.

He was always looking out for us, ready with advice at any time. My uncle always supported me. He was such a caring man, and so kind. He worked harder than anyone. He would give you everything he had if you needed it. His heart was filled with love. He had a great sense of humor. He was always there for me, and the hardest part is that when he needed us the most, we couldn’t help. Dear uncle, I still had so many things I wanted to do with you, and COVID-19 took that away from me.

My uncle was in his late 60s; he worked hard until the end. He never retired, he liked to keep busy. He was so proud of his work, and rightfully so.

Being in the medical field helps you understand the gravity of the COVID-19 pandemic, but you are still rendered helpless. When he was hospitalized and stable, he would text me questions on what he could do to get better; he asked me to talk to nurses to get updates. I tried my best to give him advice, but he suddenly deteriorated, which seems to be the case when dealing with this deadly virus.

I had actually planned to visit the week prior, in mid-March. I planned this a few months earlier, after not taking a vacation for quite some time, and it was due time to see my family. I missed them dearly, and it was hard for them to visit me due to age and the complexity of flights. My uncle was excited; he was the first person I let know about my plans, and he started planning things we would do immediately. When my trip to visit had to be canceled due to border closures, immigration policies and safety, especially given my profession, he understood but was very disappointed. Visiting could put patients at risk, and I knew it wasn’t an option. I could never anticipate that my uncle would get sick, and a few days later, he fell gravely ill.

My uncle had been home for a few weeks other than a visit to the hospital leading up. We don’t know how he got COVID-19, like so many others, but it’s more the reason following recommendations made by the CDC is imperative, especially as this crisis continues to worsen, and cases continue to rise. So many families are feeling what I am feeling right now, helpless. Nobody deserves to die alone, and this is what COVID-19 does. I have faith that he knows how much we love and care for him and that he felt our love, energy, and prayers with him.

My message to anyone who is reading this is that make sure you visit your family (whenever you can once it is deemed safe again, of course) no matter how far, or how busy you are because so many things are out of your control and life can be unpredictable. Appreciate every moment, and please take social distancing and the stay at home order in your states seriously. Go out only if you absolutely need to and if you have respiratory symptoms or fevers, please contact your doctor and stay home.

I want to wish goodbye to my uncle. I want him to know how much I love him and appreciate him and wish I was able to be by his side. Dear uncle, I hope you know how much you are loved and appreciated. We never got to make the trip you always talked about, but I hope to see you on the other side again one day.

And please, COVID-19 is real, the risk is real, the suffering is real. Hopefully, together we can end this and protect others from feeling what I have felt as I am writing this today.

To those of you who have already lost loved ones, those of you who have loved ones currently fighting for their lives, and those of you on the frontlines fighting for everyone, I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers, and hope whoever reads this article will do the same.

Jasmine Toor is an internal medicine physician.

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