WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) – One year since Pennsylvania saw its first case of COVID-19, people in one county are pausing to grieve.
“I can’t even, it’s like something you’ve never experienced in your life. Because it’s a body, literally just a body. A machine was keeping my dad alive,” said Trish Zimmerman, Co-Organizer of the event.
Her father lost that fight; a sad reality for so many people who lost a loved one to COVID-19 in Luzerne County. Judy Cefalo also lost her father to the virus.
“I guess there are no words. It was a heartbreaking experience for all of us, especially because we couldn’t be there for him when he needed us most,” said Cefalo.
“My dad, Paul Letizi, passed away October 29, 2020. He’s one of the over one half million who lost their lives to COVID. We have to remember our loved ones and pay tribute to them,” said Kim Letizi, Co-Organizer of the event.
Paying tribute by holding a candlelight vigil with 70 empty chairs: one chair for every 10 lives lost to COVID-19 in Luzerne County.
“Over the height of the pandemic, we had to say, it’s an 88-year-old woman, a 78-year-old man, and it lost its true feeling because what these were were people who had families, had neighbors, had children, had beautiful lives, but unfortunately what we found is that they’re just numbers to people,” said David Pedri, Luzerne County Manager.
So he says it’s important we have events like this one, so everyone can properly grieve.
“We are here to honor all of the lives lost here in Luzerne County which includes my brother and really to just keep fighting the fight,” said Tonya Bobersky of Berwick.
Fighting the good fight for those who didn’t even get a proper goodbye.
“My dad was in the hospital for 28 days and during those 28 days, I wasn’t able to be with him. I actually had to say goodbye to him over FaceTime sitting outside in the hospital parking lot,” said Letizi.
One year later, many say it all hurts the same.