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An Oakland Mom's Death From COVID: How Two Women Are Trying To Fill Her Shoes

 June 17, 2021 at 12:50 PM PDT

Speaker 1: 00:00 It's been painful to lose so many of our elderly to COVID-19, but there are also many families, especially Latin X families grieving the deaths of those who are younger in Oakland Marybelle via Nueva died of COVID-19 at age 46, she was a single mom and left behind a ten-year-old son, David, as part of the California report magazine series, remembering people who died from COVID-19. We hear from David's aunt Susanna Torres and his teacher, Myra Alvarado about how Mary Bell's death called each of them to take on roles. They never imagined KQ EDS. Julia McAvoy has their story. Speaker 2: 00:42 Susannah Torres had always thought of her sister as resilient. Speaker 3: 00:46 She fought the good fight while she was here. Just like everybody. She had struggles. She had, you know, moments of hardship. Speaker 2: 00:54 Susana is the youngest of the five siblings in their immigrant family. Her sister Mightybell, everyone called her. Madi was the middle Speaker 3: 01:00 Child. We grew up in a, um, domestic violence I'll call full high now environment. It was hard Speaker 2: 01:11 Sitting here. Your front porch Susana says Marty and her son lived in the homes downstairs apartment for little rent, sort of under the wing of Susannah and her house. Speaker 3: 01:21 She was very sensitive and you know, David's dad not being around. It was hard. Speaker 2: 01:29 Marty found a lot of joy in caring for children, always babysitting Susana's two kids. When they were there, Speaker 3: 01:35 She loved to cook. She was really good at cooking. Her laughs were contagious. Speaker 2: 01:43 You found work in a childcare center and she also cleaned houses. What Maddie earned. She spent on instilling in her son. A sense of possibility. Speaker 3: 01:52 Yeah, she will say for money. And even though she didn't have a car, she took David to Monterey aquarium on public transportation. Speaker 2: 02:04 When Marty got sick, Susana was the one who drove her to the community clinic and then to the hospital where they talked over, zoom, Speaker 3: 02:12 You know, stay strong, keep fighting. Uh, David is, it's fine. He's here with us. Some worry about him. Speaker 2: 02:22 It was Susannah who set up the last virtual visit with Marty and her son and Susannah was the one who had to make the hard decisions. When doctors said there was nothing more to be done. Speaker 3: 02:33 It just happened really quick. You don't have time to say goodbye Speaker 2: 02:39 As we spoke. One of Marty's friends pulled up in her truck to drop off some chocolate for David. Speaker 3: 02:46 Okay. [inaudible] when you [inaudible]. Okay. Thank you. Bye bye Speaker 2: 02:55 Friend is part of Susana's church community. It was church members like her who brought food and flowers to the family. It was another community David school that helped raise money for his mom's funeral Speaker 3: 03:08 From the teachers, from, um, you know, everybody that knew David and, uh, you know, everybody that knew my sister, Speaker 4: 03:22 Okay. Alinka standard chat. John's Speaker 2: 03:25 Anita seed elementary David's bilingual immersion school. There was also grief and confusion. At first, Speaker 4: 03:32 The link is in the chat. [inaudible] Speaker 2: 03:35 Alvarado. Her students call her Maestra. Alvarado is David's teacher. Hey stools glasses. Speaker 4: 03:43 I knew that there was this outpouring of like a support from the community that kids were going to hear about it. Manzanita Speaker 2: 03:51 Seed draws students from Oakland Fruitvale neighborhood, which is majority Latinex and has been hard hit by the virus. Speaker 4: 03:58 It happens, especially in our communities, but like I still was in disbelief. And so I was just trying to figure out what to do. Maestra Speaker 2: 04:06 Alvarado saw that a parent had started a go fund, me to help Mary's family. And she worried about David. She kept checking in with his aunt Susannah. Speaker 4: 04:15 If he needs time, let him take time. He'll catch up. He's a very engaged student. Whenever he's in class, he's like fully there really funny kid. I see a lot of the drive in David that mom had this high expectation of him, both Speaker 2: 04:30 David's teacher and his aunt felt it would help him to get back on zoom with classmates. First, my Alvarado met with David separately to try and understand how he was feeling to prepare him if she Speaker 4: 04:43 Could. Well, some of your classmates might want to reach out to you and talk about this. How do you feel about that? He said like, unless he brings it up, he doesn't want it. And I was like, okay, I respect that. And thank you for letting me know. I'll let your classmates know, by Speaker 2: 04:55 The way, I didn't feel it was right for me to interview ten-year-old David about his mom's death either, which is why you don't hear directly from him in our story here. Speaker 4: 05:12 [inaudible] questions. Yeah. Come Speaker 2: 05:13 Up about the virus from students. My Eastern Alvarado has had to negotiate this sensitive discussion over zoom. Speaker 5: 05:21 Um, it's good to get. Um, [inaudible] Speaker 4: 05:32 When students Speaker 2: 05:32 Shared in the chat that one of their family members had COVID though, none of them lost a parent as David did the empathy, Speaker 4: 05:40 Right. Of knowing what it feels like to be scared. And some students were expressing in the chat, like we're really young. I can't imagine losing my parents at this age Speaker 2: 05:52 As David returned to school Susannah and her husband decided it be best for him to live with them. She's been making green enchiladas. His mom used to cook Speaker 3: 06:02 For him for years pass by and we are still going to miss her. And that's okay. You know, I'm always here. If you want to talk about anything. Speaker 4: 06:12 One of the things I did tell David, um, after his mom had passed, is that, you know, I remember how much your mom cared about your learning, and I know how proud she would be of you and how proud she is of all the work that you're doing and how awesome you're participating in class. It's like, that's just minister. Speaker 2: 06:32 At the end of the school year, my Easter Alvarado's class met up in person at a nearby park. David hugged everyone. And then he hugged the air. He said he was for his mom and Julia McAvoy.

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More than 60,000 Californians have died from COVID-19, and The California Report Magazine has launched a series to remember some of them.
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