Not every family gets to have a happy ending. In fact, too many will experience loss on a level that seems unimaginable. KPLC's Drew Marine spoke to one Sulphur, La. family that suffered devastating loss twice in one day.
“My mom and dad always tried to prepare us for you know, if something like this was to happen. But you can never actually prepare yourself to lose a parent, much less two parents in the same day," said Ashley Briscoe.
Pastor Steven and Barbara Randolph were known lovingly by the community as Aunt and Uncle Steve. They both had pre-existing conditions.
“My mom suffered from diabetes and low blood pressure and my dad had maybe three strokes all together. He also had a heart attack and he also had high blood pressure," Briscoe said.
The symptoms for COVID-19 started with a cough. Both ended up being hospitalized. Briscoe was unable to be with her mom and dad in those final moments, but she does find comfort because they had each other.
“They put them bed by bed, side by side. and they let them hold hands. They grabbed each other’s hands. My mom actually passed first and then my dad passed shortly after, holding her hand. My mom always said she couldn’t imagine life without my dad and my dad always said he couldn’t imagine life without my mom. To me, that was God letting me know that he has them together so they don’t have to imagine life without each other.”
This virus is cruel. It doesn't care how much you love your family or your family loves you. It also doesn't care how old you are or how well you take care of yourself. For those who have survived, their shared experience has led them to the same message.
The hardest part of the disease for Shenetra Mcknight, 36, was being away from her baby daughter, Karter Marie.
“[Doctors said] But you’re going to have to be quarantined until we get the results. So I had to make arrangements for my baby girl, had to make arrangements for me, because I didn’t want to be around a lot of people, I didn’t want to be around anyone,” said Mcknight said during an interview with WAFB's Lester Duhe.
Mcknight knows she was one of the fortunate ones, but that didn't make it any easier.
“It was consistent pain. It wasn’t like where, oh I’m alright now, and then later. Those first three days that I had it, it was terrible. I did have a slight cough, but I didn’t really have the shortness of breath until that third night,” said Mcknight.
After she recovered, she had to be symptom free for 72 hours before she could hold Karter Marie again. For Mcknight, that day couldn't come soon enough.
Shenetra Mcknight and her daughter Karter Marie
"It was just the best feeling because she ran to me, she hugged me, and it was just an amazing feeling to be back with my baby girl,” said Mcknight.
A daughter's love and prayer is what led Jason Matthews to his recovery.
Matthews is only 37 years old. He’s a former Baton Rouge police officer, a veteran who served a tour in Iraq, and a husband and father who works out regularly and stays active.
“This was definitely different from the flu,” he told WAFB's Scottie Hunter. “The body aches were extreme. It was just amazing how bad it felt. My thighs, hips, calves were in horrible pain and I had just never experienced anything like that.”
When the pain grew too great, Matthews was sent to the hospital. He was admitted to the ICU.
“I FaceTimed my daughter and I asked her to pray for me and she said, ‘Okay, I’ll do it tonight,’ and I said, ‘Baby, I need it now because dad’s not doing well’ and she immediately prayed for me and started crying.”
For Matthews, it was her prayer that led him to recovery.
“Faith can conquer anything and through this experience, I will never be the same spiritually in a positive way and I just thank God for allowing me to get through this thing and to be able to share it with other people,” he said.
For Kalya Lasserre, she had faith in her own intuition that what she was experiencing was much more than what it seemed.
“It was like a full-blown flu. It was very, very miserable. So that night, my fever spiked really, really high," she described.
At first, she was told she had the flu. Thankfully, she pushed to be tested for COVID-19 because she was 8-weeks pregnant.
“We had the ultrasound. We checked everything. There’s a heartbeat. Everything looks normal. It’s measuring right on time,” she said. "I just wanted to get my story out and let pregnant women know it’s going to be okay if you do get it.”
Lakedra Fisher described her experience to WAFB's Kiran Chawla and said the diagnosis was terrifying.
“It’s really scary so when you hear you tested positive for Coronavirus, whether it’s mild or not, you just immediately get scared,” she said.
Like all of the survivors we've spoke to thus far, they all say this recovering from this virus is a miserable experience, but keep faith and you can make it to recovery.
“There is hope. You can recover. There are plenty of us out here who are recovering."