HOUSTON (Gray News) – When 14-year-old Isaiah Garcia stood over his mother at her funeral earlier this month, he thought it was the hardest thing he would do.
Two weeks later, his father died.
"I didn't get to say goodbye to my mom, or my dad now, and that's what hurts me the most right now," Isaiah said.
Naomi Esquivel, 39, died on July 2 from COVID-19, her mother Rita Marquez-Mendoza said.
Esquivel’s husband of 24 years, 44-year-old Carlos Garcia, attended her funeral with their sons, Isaiah and 11-year-old Nathan.
He was recovering from the coronavirus when he was hospitalized for kidney failure. On July 17, he was found unresponsive. Like Esquivel, who was hospitalized for only a day, the end came fast.
“He had just spoke to his son at 11 o’clock. They pronounced him dead at 12:24,” said Jacob Mendoza, Esquivel’s younger brother.
Both parents, who each had underlying health conditions, were alone when they died – the reality of COVID-19, which weighs on Esquivel’s mother.
"Dying now is more tragic than it was before because you die alone, you die alone without your family members," Marquez-Mendoza said.
Jacob Mendoza, a father of four himself, will now raise his nephews.
"I love them with all my heart, and I know that this is what their parents would have wanted, was for me to take them in," he said.
It’s a great responsibility the boys appreciate.
“At least since [my father] passed, at least we got to be with our family,” Isaiah said. “We didn’t have to go to an orphanage or anything, because I’d rather be here than anywhere else right now.”
The entire family is trying to process the unimaginable loss.
“We have no words to describe it … no words,” Marquez-Mendoza said. “We’re Christian people and we accept the will of God, and we know that if this was his will, that he’s going to guide us through it.”
Friends and family have supported a GoFundMe page to cover the boys’ living expenses. It had an original goal of $5,000, but it’s already raised more than $18,000.