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The last conversation

Stories of loss and pain as covid-19 separated families from each other in their most vulnerable moments.

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A smartphone. A tablet. A laptop. These are the tools we use to stay connected to our work, to our friends, to our family. Once covid-19 ravaged the United States, they also became the ways many people said goodbye to their loved ones. Hospital restrictions made it impossible to run to the bedside of a dying parent, sibling or spouse.

Angela Kender of Missouri lost her mother. Chioma Oruh of Maryland lost her father. Erik Curren of Florida lost his father. Kristin Urquiza of California lost her father. For each of them, their last conversations were reduced to interactions across devices from many miles away.

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“I felt an incredible sense of responsibility … of making sure he knew that I loved him.”

Kristin Urquiza lost her father, Mark Anthony Urquiza, 65, on June 30, 2020.

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“He died all alone in a strange environment with people he didn’t know.”

Chioma Oruh lost her father, Chidinma Felix Oruh, on May 9, 2020. He was 76.

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“I hope we’ll do better than people did in the past and we won’t just forget this all.”

Erik Curren lost his father, Richard Curren, who was 77, on March 17, 2020.

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“I still haven’t had a service for my mother. I don’t know when we’ll get to do that.”

Angela Kender lost her mother, Gaye Griffin-Snyder, to covid-19 on June 6, 2020.

About this story

Reporter and video journalist: Zoeann Murphy

Animators: Daron Taylor, Brian Monroe, and Sarah Hashemi

Designer: Garland Potts

Senior Producers: Reem Akaad and Whitney Shefte