TYLER, Texas (KETK) – As thousands die from the coronavirus, they leave behind grieving families, many of them never getting the chance to say goodbye.
Argelia Espinoza never thought she would be in that situation herself.
Growing up in Mexico, family meant everything. When her mother passed away, Espinoza’s father became her rock. Remembering the special moments she had with him, like his taco stand.
“He would get up early in the morning, and he would sell tacos,” said Espinoza.
One of her favorite memories was going to school. Every day she would be sent out to go to the bank during class, and the teacher would ask who would walk with her. Espinoza said that’s when everyone would raise their hand, knowing on the way to the bank, they would stop at her father’s truck and get food.
“He would usually bring us home some leftover taquitos, tacos he would sell over there, and even the neighbors were just like did he have any tacos left!” smiled Espinoza.
At 78-years-old Nicolas Garcia moved to the United States with his daughter. The patriarch of the family, until the tables turned in April. Espinoza said her father was diabetic, and as soon as she found out he wasn’t eating, she made his health her priority. Still, she said he never showed signs of COVID-19.
“He didn’t have any fever, he didn’t have any cough,” explained Espinoza, “he didn’t have any symptoms of COVID that we knew of.”
Still she knew something was wrong. Remembering one instance when her brother went to check on their father, Garcia was too weak to even open the door. It was then, that Espinoza decided it was time to go to the emergency room.
Her father speaking mostly Spanish, she thought she would be able to stay with him when he arrived at the hospital. Sadly, because of the pandemic, nurses told her she couldn’t go past the waiting room.
“I just felt like someone tearing something apart from me, so I had to tell him dad your going to be okay,” said Espinoza.
Sitting for hours waiting for her father to come back out, that moment never came. Doctors saying his condition was too severe to leave.
“Once they told us they were going to intubate him because he couldn’t breathe, he could hardly breathe on his own,” thought Espinoza, “I thought this was going to help him and he’s going to get better, but no, he didn’t.”
Then the hardest decision came when nurses told her the family that they had to make a decision on what they would do if his condition worsened. Choosing between performing CPR or removing his tubes and allowing him to pass away peacfully.
It was a tough decision Espinoza said she had to make with her sister. Remembering when he was first intubated, the image of her father continuing to reach to take the tubes out of his mouth. She said she knew, removing them would mean he would die.
Finally, she made a decision.
“I immediately said I would like him to pass in peace. He’s not going to be the same, he’s not going to be the same if her survives,” said Espinoza.
Thankfully, she was allowed to see her father one last time.
“We had the opportunity of being there with him before he passed. That was a big blessing for us. We told him how much we loved him, we told him how much we appreciate everything he did for us,” remembers Espinoza.
Her father became the 3rd death reported in Smith County. Still grieving, Espinoza’s own health became a concern.
“When they told me that he was positive according to the test, then that’s when I knew that I was going to be positive too,” said Espinoza.
After going to get a nasal swab test, her fears became fact. Quickly, she began to experience symptoms of COVID-19. She explains it was pain she had never experienced in her life.
“Your body aches like when you have the flu, but your lungs its even worse,” explained Espinoza.
Even though the virus took it’s toll, she never had to be hospitalized. Staying in bed, she said pain medication was the only thing allowing her to move around the house.
Looking back at her journey, she said she was already taking precautions against the virus. Quarantining because of a previous stomach bug, she would constantly wash her hands, but thinks not wearing a mask, could have helped stop the virus from spreading into her home.
Now, she’s created her own masks, selling them to family and friends on Facebook, in hopes to protect them from the heartache she has been through.