At the time of publication, Greece has 2,235 cases and 113 deaths related to coronavirus.
Michalis Krestas, the son of the 89th coronavirus victim, has shared his experience on the death of his mother who passed away at Evangelismos Hospital in Athens.
He describes the beginning of the disease, the moment his 59-year-old mother was transferred to the ICU and the moment he learned the news of her death.
Michalis did not attend her funeral, but describes in detail the scenes that took place. He concluded by expressing his optimism about the reduction of cases in Greece, but also not being able to hide his pain.
*It must be noted that 269 people in Greece have recovered.
My mother, at 59, was the 89 victim. Or 88, I’m not sure, two others also passed away on the same day. In a pandemic, the dead get numbers. In contrast to a mass catastrophe or tragedy in which our lives are instantly lost, at the same time, here the number belongs to you, it is indisputable. Number 89, then.
Mum fought it as hard as she could. A cough at home, a little fever. The next day she was positive for the virus. Okay, we’ll fight it. Then shortness of breath, decreased oxygen. Hospitalisation at Evangelismos to avoid any risk. A short phone call to see how she’s doing, 40 seconds, I remember because I regretted closing the phone on her so quickly. But she coughed and didn’t do well taking off her oxygen mask to talk to me. A few days later she sent her last message on WhatsApp: “I will be put on a ventilator because oxygen levels are not enough in the ICU.” Maybe I knew then.
I was optimistic. I listened to stories about 70-year-olds coming out “clean.” I read scientific articles that showed the possibilities. The first days passed, however, and the infection did not go away… I reassured the restless relatives, grandparents, that the virus would “make its rounds.” I stayed cool for them and secretly for me.
On the tenth day at dawn, my cell phone wakes me up at around 5:30 London time, a landline call in Athens. I remember times when I picked up the phone like lightning, with the anticipation and stress of good news, like when I got my first job. This time I pick it up again immediately, but without any anticipation or stress. I know what I’m going to hear and I just have to listen to it. Number 89, then.
The funeral took place immediately the next morning. Due to the virus the body is not allowed to be kept in the refrigerator for more days. Half the family is outside Greece so we are not there. We connect with video calling, for better or worse. Ten people in the churchyard at a distance of 4-5 meters each, the hearse with the trunk open and the priest alone in the church. Then, five impersonal men lower the coffin, which is wrapped in black plastic. They are dressed in white uniforms, covered from top to bottom, and wear blue gloves. Like in a post-apocalyptic movie. It hurts us.
Today I read that Greece has retreated to the global map of cases. I’m happy, it makes me proud and optimistic. But then I think of the number 89 and I don’t care about anything anymore.
My mother was number 89. I loved her very much.