STILWELL, Okla. — Today marks the one-year anniversary that Kristy Young lost her mother to COVID-19.
Young’s mother, Susan Young, was the first individual to die from the coronavirus in Washington County, Ark.
Young was able to be in the hospital room before her mother passed away. She was told she had to stand about six feet away for safety.
“I was suited up in all the PPE and I looked like an alien. I couldn’t get close to her,” Young said. “I talked to her. And I prayed for her and I sang for her. I sang ‘Take My Hand Precious Lord’. I was in there for about 10 to 15 minutes. Not long enough.”
As Young wept mourning her mother during the funeral, she got a call informing her that her sister who also had COVID had been taken off the ventilator in the hospital. Her sister had survived.
Nine weeks later, Young lost her father, Johnny Marlin, to the coronavirus. Her dad was a well-known singer and musician in the region. She used to sing with him.
Young is a single mom of two boys. She is also an elementary school teacher in Stillwell, Okla.
She said that this past year has been one of the most difficult journeys she has had to live through.
Young describes her parents as being her best friends and biggest cheerleaders.
Young lived next door to her parents on the same property and family dinners haven’t been the same since their passing.
“There have been times where I have wanted to text her or take the 10 steps into her yard where she lived to discuss things that happened that day, or the day before. Or, to let her know I was okay after I arrived somewhere. Something I normally hated having to do before. She would say, ‘Let me know when you get there, so I don’t have to worry.’ And then when that person’s gone you don’t have that anymore. And I miss that,” shared Young.
To commemorate her mom’s life, Young released balloons in her memory with her students Friday morning.
Young’s sons, Rider and Colter, said they both miss their grandmother’s cooking. Rider has even started playing the guitar, inspired by his grandfather's love for music.
Young said she believes she’s gained a deeper understanding and empathy for other people regardless of what's going on in their lives.
To others who have lost loved ones to COVID, Young said, "Don't give up on yourself. And don't give up on life. It's hard. But, it's not impossible. I didn’t make it through this year easily. It was not easy. ‘Grace’ is the word I have adopted throughout this journey. Because before [her death], the song ‘Amazing Grace’ was just a song. Until, you have to accept, amazing grace."
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