BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Susie Garcia was the first patient to die of COVID-19 in Kern County back in 2020. She took her last breath at Delano Regional Medical Center. Now a year later her family is speaking again exclusively with 23ABC news to share how her death changed their world forever.
“That's how we keep her legacy alive; we continue to relive the good memories she left us with.,” said Hector Juarez, Garcia’s son.
A business owner, the life of the party, the light of the room, but her most treasured titles are sister, grandmother, and mother.
Her name is Susana Garcia, but her loved ones simply called her Susie.
“That's the biggest part we miss…not having her there anymore and not hearing her laugh or seeing her smile or talk,” said Jessica Juarez, Gacia’s daughter.
On March 27, 2020, at 2 a.m., at the Delano Regional Medical Center, the 52-year-old Garcia received another title, the first Kern County resident to die from COVID-19.
During just a span of ten days, her health deteriorated and she was placed on a ventilator in ICU.
“The last conversation I had with my mom was difficult because I told her she needed to do this for us and she needed to be strong and let the doctors do their work to cure her,” said Hector. “She cried up until the last moments of me hearing her on the phone. That's the last memory of my mom crying and begging to not be placed on a ventilator."
The siblings share that Susie had always triumphed over past health issues, as her COVID-19 battle began with a cough.
“She was just taken away from us out of nowhere, and that's what I would tell her is that I miss her just that. I miss her.. more than anything in the world,” Hector said.
Now, a year later the siblings say, it all feels like a terrible dream.
"Having to wake up to it every day for a year is like living in a nightmare,” Jessica said. “It keeps happening over and over."
The family said Susie's passing not only impacted her loved ones- but also many residents of kern county. Hector says his mother now serves as a reminder to her children to take all precautions.
“Obviously if we can get our vaccines, take the vaccine,” Hector said. “I haven't gotten mine yet I was still in between, but I decided I do want to get it to protect myself and my family. Especially my kids."
Susie is resting in the Delano North Kern Cemetery, surrounded by her favorite things, butterflies.
“I love you mom and I will see you soon,” said Hector.
Garcia's family says that although she's no longer physically here they say she will always live in their hearts. The family is urging everyone to take the virus's seriously and consider getting the vaccine.