HOUSTON - We’ve told you about a number of COVID-19 patients who are being sent out of town for treatment because there were no available beds for them here in Houston. And one family was facing issues after their loved one was taken to New Mexico for treatment, but sadly she passed away.
Tuesday Fagbehingbe was diagnosed with diabetes shortly before her passing. Other than that, Brenda Asterion., her mom says her daughter rarely got sick. Also, she initially chose not to get vaccinated.
Then Asterion says she and her daughter were going to get the vaccine together but mom caught the flu and then her daughter had to attend a mandatory meeting for work and the day after that is when Fagbehingbe went to urgent care and was diagnosed with COVID-19.
Just two weeks later on August 21, 2021, she died. As of Thursday morning, the family was still trying to raise the money to bring her home to Houston so they can have a funeral for her.
"When it happens to you you’re in shock and you just don’t know how to deal with it," explains Fagbehingbe’s brother Parnell Jones. "Mom is on social security and I’m not rich by any means," Jones says.
Little did the family know, a miracle would happen later that day. In the time before that, however, not only was Fagbehingbe's family dealing with the grief of losing her to COVID but also knowing she spent her last days alive, first barely breathing in a Houston urgent care, then alone on a ventilator in a New Mexico ICU after there was no availability to treat her anywhere in Texas.
"The last four days they let me, they put the phone up to her ear so she could just hear what I was saying and how much I loved her," says her mom Brenda Asterion.
"As long as I don’t talk about it then I can get a grip on things such as what I have to do with the kids," adds Asterion.
"It’s hard for us, of course, but it makes it even harder thinking about her kids," says Fagbehingbe’s brother.
The 48-year-old was a teacher at a Houston head start and a divorced mother of two.
"Zion is 16 and Jesse is 5. He says now she’s with God in Heaven and then he’ll be sitting there thinking about her and he’ll say well when is mom coming home? I just don’t know what to do," cries the grieving mom and grandmother.
MORE: COVID-19 hospitalizations in Houston appear to be plateauing, but remain high
"The parents that are having to bury their children from this it’s really, to see them grieving it’s really heartbreaking," says Robert L. Barnes with Elite Life Celebrations Funeral Home.
Barnes is the type of front-line worker we haven’t heard much from in the pandemic.
"It really takes a toll on us as well. Sometimes people feel we’re immune to death but we’re not. We’re human as well" says Barnes who's a funeral home director and he's seeing a drastic increase. "Anywhere from 5 to 10 more people a day. We’ve been here in the building from about 9:00 in the morning until about 10 or 11:00 at night."
Then just as we were wrapping up the conversation a different Houston funeral home director gave Fagbehingbe's family news they never imagined. An anonymous donor paid for her body to be brought back to Houston for burial.
"On behalf of my family, I thank you so much. You know, I thank you so much," her brother says wiping tears from his eyes.
And their mom audibly sobbed as she covered her face with tears streaming down her cheeks.
"This weight is off my shoulders now," Asterion said. "We can bury my baby."