THE CENTER – The First Christian Church held a “remembrance service” to facilitate the healing of families whose loved ones died during the coronavirus pandemic on Saturday May 29 at the sanctuary.
The service had music and a message from Pastor Ed Sempsrott. It was followed by a fellowship gathering and snacks in the gymnasium. Participants and guests visited the memorial fountain in the café terrace next to a wall where families could have a plaque displayed in memory of their loved ones.
As part of the remembrance service program, 12 people were printed, each with a photo, date of birth, date of death and a memento of their life. The service was open to the community.
“A lot of people have been left hollow and empty during the pandemic,” Pastor Sempsrott said. “They weren’t allowed to enter hospitals, so they never saw their relatives.” Surviving family members did not get a chance to hug, kiss or say goodbye to their dying loved ones.
“We have to mourn, but we also have to be able to say goodbye.” According to Sempsrott, what the families had to endure was tragic.
In his 40 years of pastoral ministry, Sempsrott had never known many individuals who died like this. And there were so many unknowns about the virus, said the pastor who had visited patients with COIVD-19 and in the process met nurses and doctors.
“These first responders had to deal with the pain of the patients firsthand because there were no families to engage with,” Sempsrott said. “It was a privilege to be there because families weren’t allowed.”
According to Sempsrott, there were so many families who were alone. “We are not designed to be contactless. The human touch means so much.
The Rosas were a united family. They participated together in community events such as soccer and music concerts. But during the pandemic, the closeness was broken up by two deaths in the family.
Edward “Eddie” Rosas died on May 29, 2020; and his brother Luis Rosas, a few days later on June 14, 2020. Luis was born on April 18, 1983; and Eddie, July 8, 1987.
The family sat together in the front pew during the remembrance service.
Jose Luis Rosas and his wife, Rosa “Rosie” Rosas, were with their grandson Diego Rosas, 10, and the child’s mother, widow Anna Rosas. They were accompanied by their close family friend, Maricella Moreno and her son, David Moreno. They were not members of the First Christian Church, but they came for the remembrance service.
“The family needs closure,” said Maricella Moreno, who acted as the family’s spokesperson.
Rosie was sick and confined to a hospital while their sons – Luis was in another room in the hospital; and Eddie, single, also not feeling well but rested at home. Their sister, Melissa, was also sick. Anna, wife of Luis, was also affected by the virus and had to isolate herself at home.
“They got hurt and didn’t have a closure,” Moreno said. “It was important for them to come here and start the healing process.”
Anna fondly recalled the times when she and their son, Diego, spent time with her husband Luis. He was a father who coached his son in soccer, a musician who encouraged other musicians, a sound technician who sometimes provided his services for free.
“Diego is my reason to keep going,” Anna said.
“I miss my dad a lot,” said Diego, Luis and Anna’s only child. He remembers buying chips, burritos, learning to ride a bike, playing football and going to school with his dad.
“It was really hard for me,” Rosie said with tears in her eyes. “Every day, every day, my children, why? Why? Why?”
Each member of the Rosas family had a special black t-shirt made. There was a panda mage playing the bass guitar. The panda represented Eddie; the bass guitar represented Luis. Nearly 300 shirts were printed, in English and Spanish, as part of a fundraiser to cover funeral expenses.
Melvin Green showed off the plaque displayed at the Fountain Memorial. He was named after his mother, Dorothy Green, 99. She died on December 24, 2020, several days before her 100th birthday on January 5, 2021.
“I hadn’t seen my mother for a year because of the Covid pandemic,” said Green, the only surviving member of the Green family. Her mother fell, broke her leg and was hospitalized. According to Green, he was unable to visit her due to the pandemic. He spoke with her using a cell phone.
According to Green, her father and mother, a sister and two brothers were all deceased. “I am the only one of the family left. I’m grateful to be here.
As for Anna Rosas, she said: “Life goes on. We must continue.