This is part of a Yahoo News series honoring some of the American lives lost to COVID-19. Their stories are told by family and friends, who were left to deal with their often sudden and painful deaths.
Ismael Cervantes, 31, from Fountain Valley, Calif., died of COVID-19 on Aug. 11, 2020. He is one of hundreds of thousands of Americans who have lost their lives to the disease since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in early 2020.
“If you asked him for anything, he would immediately give to you regardless of whether he was left with nothing or not,” Cervantes’s wife, Karina Olivares, told Yahoo News.
Cervantes, the son of immigrants from Guerrero, Mexico, was a tile and stone warehouse administrator. His wife, who added that he was a good husband, son, brother and father, says he was hardworking and dedicated. “He wanted to work really hard so he could retire his parents and take care of them,” she said.
The couple had gotten married last March. Three months later, they both contracted COVID-19.
“We were very careful. We would not leave the house. ... We skipped out on family gatherings because he was so scared to get sick, and we got sick,” Olivares said.
After they both tested positive for COVID-19, Olivares experienced mild symptoms. But Cervantes’s health worsened and he was admitted to Fountain Valley Regional Hospital, where he was put on a ventilator for several weeks. He eventually died from COVID-19 complications.
Olivares told Yahoo News she is immensely grateful to the hospital staff, who did everything they could to keep her husband alive. “They fought really hard for him, but it was his time to go,” she added.
Like many Americans who have lost a loved one, Olivares says navigating life alone has been difficult.
“I can’t figure out how to do life without him at this point, so it’s affected every aspect of my life, financially, emotionally and physically. I don’t wish this upon anybody,” she said with tears in her eyes.
The most painful part, she says, has been watching her young daughter cry for Ismael, who wasn’t her biological father but raised her as if he was.
“I want people to know that COVID is real. And it happens to anyone. It happened to us. He was 31 years old. We had a whole future ahead of us. We had plans, we had goals, and it was taken from us,” Olivares said.