Vigil held in Lowell Tuesday for victims of COVID-19

LOWELL, Mass. — Some 319 flags are now on display in front of Lowell City Hall. Each one represents a life lost to COVID-19 in the city.

“It brings the reality of it home when you look at that, and I know one is for our mom, and yet there are so many others,” said Linda Mitchell.

Linda Mitchell and Lucy Cornellier are sisters who lost their mother to COVID-19 last April during the height of the pandemic.

“It still feels like yesterday because we were never able to have closure,” Cornellier said.

Their mother was in a nursing home, so they weren’t allowed to spend those last moments with her in person before she died. They also couldn’t even have a funeral.

“At the end, we had to say goodbye by phone,” Mitchell said.

Sara Khun Leng understands that pain too. She lost both of her parents to COVID-19 last May. They died just 24 hours apart from each other.

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“During that time, our family, we were not able to go to the hospital to say goodbye to them or to hold their hands as they took their last breath, so for me that heartache will always live on,” Khun Leng said.

Khun Leng added that she was sick with COVID-19 at the time too, so she wasn’t able to visit them before they died.

“To pass away in a hospital just by themselves, that is the most heartbreaking vision,” Khun Leng said.

That’s why Khun Leng and so many others were thankful to see the City of Lowell hold that vigil Tuesday to honor and remember the hundreds lost to the virus.

“We’re here today as a city to say hey, we did lose people, this has been a serious issue, it’s still a serious concern for everyone,” said John Leahy, the mayor of Lowell.

To some, those are more than just flags, they symbolize parents, grandparents and loved ones who will never be forgotten.

“We don’t want them to be just a number, there are still so many families going through this heartache and this pain,” Khun Leng said.