Grief and financial hardship: A Tampa family’s fight against COVID-19

Coronavirus

The Suarez join hundreds of Hispanic families in the U.S. the CDC says are disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus.

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA)- A Tampa family hit hard by COVID-19 is now fighting to keep their home as they grapple with grief.

Dora Suarez is living a nightmare that so many across the country are also experiencing. First, she couldn’t give her husband a proper burial and now she can’t afford to pay for what he left behind for her to live comfortably – their humble home.

Dora describes Moises as a tender, energetic, and loyal friend. She never expected their friendship to lead to marriage, but it did almost two years ago. That love was torn apart by COVID-19 in on July 7.

“He left our house to not come back,” said Dora.

Dora and Moises on their wedding day in 2019.

Dora can’t hold back the tears as she remembers the day her husband left in an ambulance, never to return. Eighty two-year-old Moises fought for 10 days before dying at a Tampa hospital. The family wrote him letters to motivate his fight against the virus and spoke with him through video calls when nurses had a chance to gown up and make the calls.

“He was alone, he has a lot of people that loved him and we couldn’t visit him,” says his daughter, Jennifer Morales.

Jennifer, 56-year-old Dora, and her 84-year-old mom – a lung cancer survivor were all quarantined at home with severe COVID-19.

The Suarez join hundreds of Hispanic families in the U.S. the CDC says are disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus. Many Latinos can’t afford to stay home, classified as essential workers elevating their risk for infection.

“My mom was a single-mother this whole time, she has paid for everything, we lived in a low-income apartment our whole life,” said Jennifer of the sacrifices her made for them. They escaped poverty in Colombia to face another uphill battle here. Everything changed when Moises came into her life six years ago. He became a father, protector, and supporter.

“The last thing I was able to say to him was that I love him, that I wanted him to get better,” said Jenifer with tears in her eyes.

Moises wanted to leave his Tampa home to his wife so she would never again have to worry about where she would live. But, with mounting bills and expenditures, it’s becoming too much for Dora.

As her mother’s caretaker she can only afford to work a part-time job and it’s simply not enough. Jenifer helps with what she can as she works two part-time jobs and takes classes at USF to become a physician assistant

“Because he has left this house, I don’t want her to lose the house. This is something that, one, she needs, and two, her husband left it to her,” said Jennifer, I wish I could help my mom. Economically, I can’t.”

Leaning on faith, this family hopes they can keep what Moises worked so hard to build.

The Suarez family have started a Go Fund Me page to help them keep their Tampa home.

“He changed our lives completely,” said Jennifer.

The Suarez family reminds us of how fragile life is and how it can be turned upsidedown in a matter of days by COVID-19.

They have set up a GoFundMe page and so far have raised over $2,900 of their $15,000 goal.

>> Follow Jennifer Peñate on Facebook

>> Follow Jennifer Peñate on Twitter

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