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#TheMoment: That One Woman Realized COVID-19 Would Change Her Family Forever


This week marks a year since the U.S. went into lockdown because of the coronavirus. NPR asked listeners to share with us the moment they realized that everything would change. Thousands of you responded, and we are sharing some of the stories.


Like this one from Kate McCormick. The loss that has affected so many Americans touched the Connecticut resident's family early on.

KATE MCCORMICK: We lost my first aunt, Hunka Ablin, on March 24, and then we lost my second aunt, Sesha Hupert, on April 6.

KELLY: Two of Kate's aunts died of COVID-19 just weeks after lockdown began. But it was the stories about how they lived joyfully and vibrantly that Kate shared with us.

MCCORMICK: When my mom and her siblings were together, they would just laugh all the time. I mean, they found themselves hilarious, and we found them hilarious. But usually, a couple of glasses of wine, and the volume would go up and, you know, they'd be toasting each other - a la familia - over and over again.

SHAPIRO: Her aunt Sesha was a trailblazer.

MCCORMICK: She was an anesthesiologist and one of the few women in the field when she was practicing.

SHAPIRO: And her aunt Hunka worked with geriatric services for a long time.

MCCORMICK: Conducting older folks and folks with mental illness to various services in the city. So you know, they did a lot in their lives to give back.

SHAPIRO: Both women, young children during World War II, survived the Holocaust along with their family.

MCCORMICK: It was just shocking to us to have them taken from us so quickly after, you know - after everything that they had survived in their lives.

KELLY: And like so many of us, because of pandemic safety restrictions, they could not gather together to mourn the loss.

MCCORMICK: I think we've done our best to hold on to each other in this, but I don't think we've really processed the feelings. I don't think we've really processed the loss. I think we've all been in survival mode for the last year. And it's - I imagine that it's not until we feel safe again and come together again that we're really going to feel it all.

KELLY: That is Kate McCormick of Connecticut, remembering her aunts Sesha Hupert and Hunka Ablin, who died of COVID-19 last spring as the pandemic began to transform lives across the world. It's part of our collection of listener remembrances of the moment when things changed.

(SOUNDBITE OF AIR'S "ALONE IN KYOTO") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.