CHULA VISTA, Calif. (KGTV) - Two years into the pandemic, loved ones of those lost to COVID say the deaths continue to have enduring impact on their lives.
“I think about him every day. For sure, every day,” said Claudia Martinez.
For Martinez, a year-and-a-half later, the grief over the death of her father, Raul, still lingers.
“I have good and bad days. I’m not going to lie. It's tough, especially since we didn't get to say goodbye,” said Martinez.
Raul, a diabetic, first became sick with COVID in August 2020. He was placed on a ventilator in late September and passed away less than 24 hours later.
Raul, a retired CHP officer, a father of 4, and a grandfather of 9, passed away at the age of 70.
Because of COVID restrictions, the family was not allowed to be with him in the end.
When asked what she missed the most about her father, Claudia answered, “Laughing with him, sharing stories, his hugs.”
The death of Raul, who died before the vaccines came out, had a big impact when it came to her family getting vaccinated.
"My family, for the most part, didn't hesitate to get the vaccine, regardless of what we did and didn’t know, or what our political views were,” said Martinez.
As for honoring her father’s memory, loved ones try to focus on celebrating his life.
“We get together, often at my parents’ house, reminisce, tell stories, laugh at him, play his music … just to try to feel close to him,” said Martinez.
Her father, Raul, is among the countless lives lost to COVID, including more than 5,000 in San Diego County.
Martinez hopes something emerges from all the pain.
“I'd hope we could all learn to care for one another … If you can be careful, why not?” said Martinez.
Raul Martinez, a Vietnam Veteran, is buried at Miramar National Cemetery.