Erica Becerra had just moved to Detroit from Los Angeles along with her husband and 1-year-old daughter. After experiencing contractions, she spent two days at a hospital for observation but when she returned home, she began to show COVID-19 symptoms.
Two weeks after she gave birth to her son, she died of complications from the virus — she never held her son.
“Erica was the most wonderful person you could ever meet,” her brother, Miguel Avilez, told Anderson Cooper in an interview earlier in the month. “Her main concern was other people. For her, other people’s happiness was her happiness.
“She followed every rule in the book and she still ended up catching [the coronavirus].”
In the midst of their loss, Avilez along with Becerra’s friends and family have said they want to share her story to raise awareness of COVID-19’s deadliness and possibly prevent the pain they are moving through.
“It’s sad, you know, you’ve got a lot of people who don’t understand what’s going on, think [the pandemic] is a joke until it happens to them or one of their family members,” Avilez wrote on Facebook. “My sister would want for me to help people, just like she did. I’m going to keep her name alive.”
Avilez stated how in the first week of November, his 33-year-old sister began to experience contractions and spent two days as a patient at the Henry Ford Hospital for observation. Quickly after returning home, Becerra began to show COVID-19 symptoms.
“She called my mom that Monday morning [and said], ‘Mom, I think they hurt me at the hospital, it hurts to breathe, it hurts to move, I don’t feel good.'”
But by Nov. 11, Becerra’s condition had gotten so bad that she had to be taken to the hospital via ambulance. After three days with zero improvements, her doctors decided to induce labor.
Named for his father, Baby Diego Antonio was born on November 15. And immediately after giving birth, Becerra was intubated.
“Right after she gave birth to her son, they put her in the tube because her body wasn’t retaining oxygen anymore,” Avilez told CNN. “And then after that, she wasn’t able to meet her newborn baby.
“From what the nurse told us, they were only able to put him up to her cheek [but] she wasn’t conscious at the time anymore.”
In an interview with Los Angeles CBS affiliate KCAL, Avilez said through tears that he and other family members made the trip to Detroit in early December as Becerra’s condition worsened.
“Towards the last moments, she was tearing up,” Avilez said. “I know she heard us as we prayed for her, we talked to her, we comforted her in the last moments.”
In an interview with CNN, Avilez revealed how the entire family will do whatever it takes to support Becerra’s husband, son, and daughter.
“As much as my sister loved everybody, everybody is going to be there for those two babies. They have a lot of love from both sides,” he said. “Right now we just gotta enjoy them as much as we can.”
In addition to Becerra’s family and friends, her godmother, Claudia Garcia, created a GoFundMe to help the family with funeral expenses along with the cost of travel from Los Angeles to Detroit.
The goal was $10,000, with the promise that any money left over would go “towards the day to day needs of [Becerra’s] young children.”
As of Sunday, over 2,600 people had donated more than $97,087.
With a background in the creative and educational fields, Amelia Finefrock is freelance writer, singer-songwriter and nanny based in Chicago.
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