BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — This holiday season is a lot different for one 8-year-old girl who is spending it without her mother after she lost her battle with depression. now her teacher is asking for the community's support to bring that family some joy during Christmas.
23ABC's Bayne Froney met second-grader Aaliyiah and her father Efrain, and he told her that his wife was kind, fun, loving, but her battle with depression had been going on for many years, and the pandemic may have played a role as to why this family is dealing with tough times.
“One little hug, one little kiss, one little cookie i gave her could have changed her mind,” said husband Efrain Gomez.
This holiday season, the Gomez family is incomplete.
“Depression is real, it has taken away half of my life, it has taken away her whole life, depression is real,” added Gomez.
Efrain Gomez is trying to adjust to life without his wife Nancy, who lost her battle with depression at the beginning of December, leaving behind not only Efrain, but her daughter Aaliyiah.
“It feels like she is stronger than me in this situation,” said Gomez.
Aaliyiah recently celebrated her birthday but that happiness was faded quickly after just more than a week later she lost her mother.
“I’m okay, I just don’t really know what to do,” said Aaliyiah.
During these tough times, her second-grade teacher, Teresa Johns, is hoping to bring some joy to the family and is asking for the community to help, by donating gifts, food, or money to the family this Christmas.
“Have the happiest holiday season possible, in the middle of this tragedy, and that she’s going to be okay,” said Johns.
According to Gomez, his wife had been struggling with her mental health for a few years, but he believes that COVID-19 may have made it even harder on his wife.
“Honestly, it probably got worse throughout this whole pandemic. We couldn’t go to the store as freely as possible, we couldn’t go sit down at a restaurant,” said Gomez.
After losing his wife, Gomez sees depression and mental health in a different light and wants others to be aware of the signs so you may be able to help someone before it’s too late.
“If someone is asking for help, give it to them, if someone is acting like they are okay and they aren’t okay pay attention, it could help, not being in this situation.”
If you want to help the Gomez family this holiday by donating a toy, food, or a card, you can drop items off at any Tony’s Pizza Bakersfield location and, if you or someone you know is struggling with depression, there are resources available at Kern Behavioral Health and you can call their crisis hotline number at (844) 863-7002.