DOVER — The clock said 3:42 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning and the hallways of the hospital were empty when James Frisa passed away due to complications from the COVID-19 virus.
His wife, Carol Frisa, was left in those quiet hallways with her daughter and her daughter’s fiancée, holding three bags full of her husband’s possessions.
“It was the most brutal thing,” Ms. Frisa said.
Ms. Frisa recalled that night, the 30 years of marriage and the 57 years of James Frisa’s life Tuesday as the state held a memorial ceremony in front of the Jesse Cooper Building for the 2,919 Delawareans who have died from COVID-19 over the past two years.
Family members wrote the names of loved ones on yellow hearts and some displayed homemade posters to honor those they lost. Ms. Frisa sported a shirt with her husband’s photo on it, decked out in his Camden-Wyoming Little League coaching attire — one of his favorite things to do in his spare time when he wasn’t working as an acupuncturist.
The Delaware Division of Public Health also dedicated a tree in front of its Cooper Building with a new plaque which honors those Delawareans who died of COVID-19.
Gov. John Carney said the ceremony served as a chance to “put names with the numbers” for a virus where so much focus has been placed on the statistics.
Families of those lost bonded over shared stories of separation and helplessness during battles with the virus.
“I remember the glass in between me and my husband and not being able to touch him,” Ms. Frisa said. “I felt like I needed to give him honor and this is almost like closure, kind of like letting him go.”
“He was such a good person,” she added. “An all-around good soul. He was incredibly healthy but this COVID-19 is just a monster. I needed to be here with like-minded people and that’s why this really meant something.”
Gov. Carney added while Delaware is in a better place now than compared to the winter surge of COVID-19, Delawareans should still take the necessary steps to protect themselves against the virus. The state is averaging 218.6 new cases of COVID-19 per day over the last seven days, according to DPH’s report on Tuesday.
“This memorial service reminds all of us that ultimately people die,” Gov. Carney said. “The virus is still present. We’re in a better place because so many Delawareans are vaccinated and protected in that respect but we’ve also let down our guard in mask-wearing and social distancing. We’re gathering in a more normal kind of way so in that respect it’s not surprising that the virus is spreading again.”
Ms. Frisa said events like Tuesday’s help keep her husband’s memory alive.
She tries to do that every day and can feel her husband at various moments, such as watching her grandson play Little League.
“He’s a first baseman just like his poppa was,” Ms. Frisa said. “He’s a good first baseman. His grandpa taught him everything he knows.”