CHICAGO (CBS) — Illinois has lost nearly 22,000 people to COVID-19; each of them leaving behind family, friends and loved ones still grappling with grief as we enter a new phase of the pandemic.
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A sign of hope. On a cloudy morning on Saturday, dozens gathered at 48th Street and Kenneth Avenue, now named in honor of Maria Lopez and her husband, known as Lupe.
“He was my coach in 8th grade,” neighbor Jesus Ochoa said. “He’s a big name; big name within the community.”
And big names leave behind big sorrow when they pass. Married for over 30 years, Maria and Lupe got COVID in November, and died within weeks.
“My mom said goodbye to my dad on Facetime through glass,” said their daughter, Erica. “I think my mom died of a broken heart once she found out that my dad passed away, and now they’re together in heaven.”
And together, they’re leaving a legacy
Maria would help immigrants in Little Village fill out tax returns. Lupe, a star 911 dispatcher, saved lives over the phone for over 30 years.READ MORE: Chicago Bears Single-Game Tickets Go On Sale Wednesday Night
“They both left footprints all over the city,” said their son, Andy.
But it was at 48th and Kenneth where they poured their heart and soul. This street was their first home, and the baseball field at the end of it was their second.
“I’m sad,” said Ethan Gonzalez, a 9-year-old Little League player who was on the last team Lupe would ever coach. “He would always invite me to his house. He was my favorite coach.”
“My dad would always tell me ‘I’m not going here just to coach, I’m going here because these kids need me,” said Lupe’s son, Richie.
As the nation moves forward, the grief is still there for the sons and daughter left behind, but the Lopez children said Saturday feels like the start of a new chapter.
“Today was … a sense of normalcy with everybody here,” Andy Lopez said. “Tells us they won’t be forgotten.”
“Just really shows what Chicago is about; it’s about community,” Richie Lopez said.MORE NEWS: Free Beer With Proof Of COVID Shot
We’ve been following the Lopez family story for months now, and within the last few weeks, their children have become fully vaccinated, saying it was emotional thinking about the difference it could have made for their parents.