New Jersey Filipina talks about losing both parents to coronavirus

This was Alfredo and Susana Pabatao doing what they loved to do as couple when they were still alive.

This Filipino married couple is among more than 900 coronavirus-related deaths in New Jersey, as of Monday.

Alfredo and Susana moved from Manila to New Jersey 19 years ago. They were together for 44 years.

The coronavirus separated them briefly when they were both hospitalized last month. The Pabataos died just days apart in the same New Jersey hospital from COVID-19.

“They do have underlying conditions but they’re not sickly. They’re very healthy so it’s really tough and hard to accept what has happened to us.” 

68-year-old Alfredo worked as a medical transporter for 18 years at a hospital in Hackensack, New Jersey. He went to the hospital on March 19th for flu-like symptoms. He died a week later.

64-year-old Susana, on the other hand, worked as an assistant nurse at a hospital in Paramus, NJ. She began to feel ill and was admitted to the hospital on march 23rd. She died on the 30th.

By the time the couple’s COVID-19 test results came back, it was too late.

“They just had fever. They went from 0 to 100. It was really hard for us to process it.  Every night I can’t sleep on my own so I have to call my siblings in the Philippines so all of us would be on Facebook Messenger until I fall asleep until I wake up the next because we can’t be there for each other yet. It’s been very hard.” 

Sheryl and her brother have both tested positive for COVID-19. She told ABS-CBN News they are both out of the woods and feeling better but still in self-quarantine.

What breaks her heart even more is the fact that they can’t hold a funeral or memorial service for her parents.

“Right now they are currently just in the funeral home.  They got cremated. The best thing that we did was just to follow the car from the funeral home to the crematory service and we couldn’t even go inside the cemetery so we just watched my mom and my dad in that little window for the car to bring them there.”

Sheryl admitted that there’s one thing that haunts her, and terrifies many COVID-19 patients.

“I assured them both that they’re gonna be okay and that they’re not gonna die alone. It’s like when they passed away, I felt so painful because I couldn’t even be there for them, to see the last glimpse of them.”

New Jersey has the second-highest number of coronavirus cases in the United States. Officials warn it will get worse before it gets better.


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