Anyone who ever met my brother, Daniel Miles, remembered one specific trait, his physical stature. He had been bestowed with the remarkable genes of our father. He inherited his physique, good looks and many of his qualities too. Well of course, my brother had a unique personality all on his own, and he had a way of etching his name in your memory.
He had equal parts of masculinity, good looks and suave. He was quite the heartthrob back in the day. He had a fiery and tough side but a soft charming side beneath his quiet unassuming demeanor. He seemed to prefer privacy and kept to himself most of the time, rarely allowing people to catch a glimpse of his soft side.
He never expressed any fear about going to work during the coronavirus pandemic. When he wasn’t working as a drug and alcohol counselor, he was a father to his daughters Lateshia and Jeanille, and raised his two sons, Sincere and Devine, with the help of his loving, supportive and devoted wife, Desiree Miles. It seemed his wife’s Desiree unconditional love made my brother content, and he exuded a subtle happiness whether he wanted to or not.
Life with my brother was not always easy. He was strong-minded and strong-willed. He did things his own way. He was a man of few words but didn’t sugarcoat what needed to be said. His responses were often quick, blunt and to the point. He had a salty form of facetious wisecrack wit. He commanded a lot of respect from his family, friends and co-workers.
However, Daniel always rose to the call or occasion and got the respect of others; thus, gifting us memories to savor in the times to come. I will miss my brother’s dry sarcastic sense of humor, laugh and running commentary on… well everything. I will miss his camaraderie and our phone conversations.
His memory will never fade for those of us who loved him. A family memorial service will be held at an undetermined date. In the meantime, since we are “sheltered in place” and prohibited from celebrating the life of my brother as a family, we all have acknowledge our loss within the privacy of our homes.
One Family Member’s Perspective on the Coronavirus Pandemic
Looking at coronavirus in the news prior to March 2020, nobody in our family could’ve predicted that the virus would come from China 8,000 miles away to here on Long Island, N.Y. and wreak devastating havoc. We didn’t know it would be the culprit to strike my brother Danny, becoming one of the virus’ Brentwood, New York tragedy statistics. Each person’s mental, emotional and physical suffering due to the novel coronavirus pandemic and untimely death and story, is a little different, but often, we face the same heartbreak.
Lonely Ambulance Trip to the Hospital Without Family
Of course, no one could’ve predicted my brother Danny’s highly troubling coronavirus symptoms over the weekend of March 28 would become so severe that he would have to call an ambulance. This is the last time his wife saw him, and they wouldn’t allow her to go with him. Upon his arrival at the hospital two days later, he would be admitted and be placed in an intensive care unit. His health rapidly declined quickly. I don’t think he foresaw things turning out quite as they did either.
The Emotional Isolation and Agony of Dying Alone without Family
There are family members behind my brother along with everyone else who has been admitted to the hospital as a COVID-19 patient. The news of my brother’s demise shocked family members all over. The most disturbing part about his hospital visit was despite our best efforts to keep in contact with my brother, I am sure his ICU visit and isolation was incredibly worrisome and scary.
I am sure he didn’t sleep much with the sound of beeping machines, the whirring of the IV and the glow of the monitor logging his pulse, blood-oxygen level and everything else.
It was a very scary experience for me as well. At one point during his hospitalization and prior to his death, I could not breathe. I felt anxious and very light-headed. I felt like I was going to pass out. I understood my brother was probably scared. I was scared for him.
I distinctly remember one night while I was asleep, I felt startled. I felt a sense of eeriness like I knew that something had changed for my brother and that things had taken a turn for the worst. Mentally and emotionally, I could identify with what suffering and turmoil my brother may have been experiencing and my heart was beating fast. I came to the realization that my brother might not overcome coronavirus. And so, I continued to pray, but I feared for his life.
It’s Lonely Grieving at Home without Physical Family Support
Our grief knew no bounds when he breathed his last breath on Friday evening on April 3. It hurts that, we, his family could not visit the hospital and be by his bedside when he struggled during the last five days of his life or when he transitioned. We couldn’t even see his wife and family during this devastating and difficult time. I can’t imagine the horror of my brother and those dying in the hospital from COVID-19 whose only human contact in their last days and hours is with strangers and people whose faces are covered.
We are following the “shelter in place” guidelines requested by the governor and we have a strict no-visitation rule at my home. However, I feel more connected to people in my family rather than less connected. I made my presence, love and support known through daily telephone calls and by sending my sister-in-law flowers and a favorite neighborhood chain restaurant gift card to help comfort her and her family when she retrieved my brother’s ashes from the funeral home.
Coming to Terms Living with Covid–19 in 2020 and Beyond
I presumed there are many more positive cases, mostly untested. Symptomatic people could’ve been exposed to hospital staff, nursing homes, workers or asymptomatic people with COVID-19. As a result, the disease is spreading faster than we realized or could ever imagine.
We need to be conscious of each other’s health and well-being. My life is at stake and those I love. Your life is at stake and those you love. I urge you to take precautions and be pro-active to keep you, your family and others safe. If people do not cover their face and practice social distancing, a lot more of us will be spiritually transitioning – dead.
I am completely dumbfounded by people who were “sheltering in place” while visiting family and friends, arranging play dates or dealing with “cabin fever meltdowns.” To feel that “sheltering in place” was an intolerable insult to one’s human rights is bewildering. Protestors or people angry over being required to wear a mask in public amid this life or death crisis is mind-boggling.
We are going through these challenging COVID-19 moments together and we will evolve and learn together, but please do not let our learning lessons be at the expense of a family member, neighbor or friend’s life or at the cost of your own life. While we all want to resume a normal lifestyle, we cannot go back to living or business as usual prior to March 2.
Yes, there’s no guarantee. You or I can be mindful, vigilant, wash our hands constantly, use hand sanitizer, cover our face in public hoping we won’t befall our own calamities with the virus, and still be infected. However, it is still in our own best interest to continue to practice the above to minimize the spread of COVID-19.
Despite my feeling estranged from love ones, cabin fever and the desire to participate in my business 2020 pre-scheduled seasonal vendor events, I know I cannot put myself and others at risk. I know, I have to adapt to a “new normal” and continue to avoid the “three Cs” – closed spaces, crowded places and close contact.
As an African American woman, I also know that there are far bigger assaults on one’s freedom and autonomy; like discrimination based on age, gender, race, color, sexual preference, religion and the list can go on. However, I must be alive to confront and fight both covert and overt systemic discrimination, social inequities and injustices that still exist.