The unfortunate losses recorded in 2020 regarding COVID-19 included the heartbreaking story of 46-year-old Brenda Martinez, whose responsibility as a caregiver passed on to her young son, Juna Jose Martinez.
Brenda, a mom of six from Palmdale, lost her life after contracting the virus in August 2020. After her death, her then-19-year-old son, Juan, bravely stepped up to take responsibility for his five younger siblings. Here's how he has been faring.
A picture of Palmdale teen, Juan Jose Martinez, his mom, Brenda and siblings | Photo: twitter.com/TheLastWord
THE MARTINEZ CONTRACTED COVID-19
Back in 2020, during the peak of the novel coronavirus, Brenda and all her kids contracted the virus. While the younger children, ages 2,7, 8, 9, and 15, were asymptomatic, Brenda and Juan were not so lucky.
What started as a mild cough for the middle-aged woman soon turned into strenuous breathing. Juan shared that they had immediately dialed 911 to get his mom to a Covid care center.
Brenda was put on a ventilator and was soon fighting for her life. In that period, Juan wasted no time taking up home duties and caring for his siblings despite battling the ailment.
His aunty, Crystal Acosta Torres, set up a fundraising campaign for the family due to how the bills had piled up. One week after Brenda was placed on a ventilator, her son watched her struggle to survive on a zoom call while doctors performed CPR. The mom of six young children passed on, with the heavy-duty of parenting left to her son.
JUAN OPENS UP ON HOW LIFE HAS BEEN
Between losing his job as a security guard and mourning the painful loss, Juan chucked up enough strength to console his siblings and pick up from where his mom ended it.
Speaking about the deceased, Juan recalled how careful his mother was after the virus was declared a pandemic. He explained Brenda's routine and how she was health conscious:
"She was just always careful. She would usually stay home and took extra precautions. She would always wear a mask when she stepped out. She would always sanitize."
Brenda had diabetes and was said to be extra careful not to endanger herself and her kids. Presently, Juan had four of his siblings in his care as the youngest one below the age of five was taken on by his biological father.
HOW JUAN IS TAKING CHARGE
The youngster explained that it was tough dealing with the emotions. Sometimes, he would console his siblings, and other times they would all cry together, mourning their beloved mom.
Juan made sure the younger kids' schooling and other routines did not suffer. He applied for benefits and set up a GoFundMe page during the holidays so they could get gifts.
In all, the young man has taken it upon himself to sensitize people on the realness and grave danger of the novel coronavirus. He noted that he often saw people who thought it was all a lie, and it saddened him because no family deserved to experience such a painful death.
VANESSA PEREZ HAS A SIMILAR FATE
2021 ended on a sad note for Vanessa Perez, an Arizona native, and her five siblings, following the death of their mom Mayra Millan. Before her passing, Millan was the working mom who adequately provided for her children.
Millan came down with COVID-19 around Thanksgiving. It was suspected that she caught the virus due to her job as an essential worker at a grocery store. The family was able to contain the situation for a few days until Millan's breathing became labored.
She was rushed to the hospital, sedated, and on a ventilator for days. Her kids could not go to the COVID-19 center, but they called every day to get updates on her health.
Millan's lungs collapsed, became stable, and recollapsed until she lost the battle. After her death, 25-year-old Perez took over as caregiver for her siblings aged 23 to 6, and since then, she has been forging ahead and taking it one day at a time.