CHARLOTTE — Two Charlotte widows spoke with Channel 9 Thursday about how COVID-19 changed their lives two years after the first cases of the deadly virus were reported.
Families have experienced fear, loss and grief as COVID-19 swept across the globe.
Laura Jackson lost her husband, Charlie Jackson, to COVID-19.
“He had the best one-liners,” Laura Jackson said. “He had a laugh that went so deep.”
COVID-19 ripped the joy from their lives in spring 2020. The U.S. Army veteran developed symptoms consistent with the virus in April 2020.
“It was pretty rapidly,” Laura Jackson said. “As a matter of fact, days after he tested positive, his breathing seemed more shallow.”
Jackson took her husband to a VA facility and said their goodbyes in the parking lot.
“We quickly were able to exchange, ‘I love you’s,’ give each other a hug, and off he went,” she said. “And that was the last time I got to see him alive.”
All Laura Jackson could do was wait in her car.
“I wasn’t allowed in the hospital at all,” Laura Jackson said. “Probably 45 minutes later, I got a call, and they said I was going to intubate him.”
Charlie Jackson died 22 days later without the presence of family, friends and no familiar faces in sight.
Laura Jackson said the graveside funeral service was small and the family’s visitation was brief.
“There was a veil draped over him,” she said. “His ears, any open area, like his ears, nose, his mouth, was stuffed and distorted his appearance. It was very different.”
Maria Taylor-Perry knew things were bad when her husband, Albert Perry, contracted COVID-19 in late 2020.
“I’m a historian,” Taylor-Perry said. “And so, I was flashing back to the 1918 influenza pandemic.”
He spent weeks in and out of a hospital. Taylor-Perry said the Korean War veteran was one of the first people to qualify for a vaccine.
“Unfortunately, he was too sick to leave,” Taylor-Perry said. “But I couldn’t even get them to the Charlotte facility to get the vaccine.”
Her husband’s battle with the virus ended in February 2021 on her birthday.
“I took a whole lot of precautions trying to keep him safe,” Taylor-Perry said.
The pandemic is personal for the women. Two years into the cycle of masks, mandates and vaccines, the two widows said people should not let their guard down.
“I don’t want another generation to experience what I experienced or what my family experienced,” Laura Jackson said.
Laura Jackson is part of the movement to declare a COVID-19 Memorial Day to honor people who died from the virus.
Taylor-Perry left Charlotte to continue her career in Raleigh and be closer to family.
(Watch the video below: Man leaves New Mexico hospital after 550-day stay for COVID-19)
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