Remembering the lives lost to COVID-19: Ismael Cervantes, 31, of Fountain Valley, Calif.

Ismael Cervantes, 31, from Fountain Valley, Calif., died of COVID-19 on Aug. 11, 2020. He is one of hundreds of thousands of Americans who have lost their lives to the disease since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in early 2020.

“If you asked him for anything, he would immediately give to you regardless of whether he was left with nothing or not,” Cervantes’s wife, Karina Olivares, told Yahoo News.

This is part of a Yahoo News series honoring some of the American lives lost to COVID-19. Their stories are told by family and friends, who were left to deal with their often sudden and painful deaths.

Video Transcript


KARINA OLIVARES: Ismael was very loving, caring, charismatic, loved to party, he loved his family, he loved his parents, he was an amazing father, and an amazing husband.

My name is Karina, and I lost my husband, Ismael Cervantes, to COVID. Ismael was 31 years old. We had just gotten married in March, through court. Ismael is from a very small pueblo in Guerrero. He comes from a beautiful family, and his main goal that he would always talk about was he wanted to work really hard so he can retire his parents and take care of them. He just wanted to be a good father, to be a good husband, a good son, a good brother. You could ask him for anything, and he will immediately give it to you, regardless of whether he was left with nothing or not.

One time, we were going to the cemetery to visit my father's grave, and there was an old lady selling flowers, and it was really hot that day, and he bought all the flowers from her so that she could go home early. And he said, I don't know why she's working. She shouldn't be working. She should go home and rest. And at that moment, I fell in love with him all over again. He just had a beautiful heart.

He worked at a tile and stone warehouse. He was a warehouse administrator. He was a very dedicated employee. He loved his work. He was very proud of it.

We were very careful. We would not leave the house, skipped out on family gatherings because he was so scared to get sick, and we both tested positive. I got better. However, he got worse. He was admitted on July 6. He walked into Fountain Valley Hospital, and by day three, he was put on a ventilator, where he was on a ventilator for seven weeks.

It was really hard. The best way I can describe it is living in a nightmare that never ends. Every day, I would call to get an update, because there was not a lot of changes the first few weeks. It came to the point where they told me that there was nothing more they could do for him by week two.

On our last Facetime call, as soon as he saw me, he put a smile on his face, and that smile he gave me was everything, honestly, because I had not seen that smile in seven weeks. That smile was a gift for me, that he was able to give me before he passed.

Ismael passed away on August 11 at 9:45 AM. That morning, I got a call at 6:00 in the morning saying it was time for me to come and say goodbye to my husband. The first time I walked in there, I still kept telling him to fight, because I was being selfish. But then I couldn't do that anymore. So I went back in, and I told him, I said, babe, if God's calling you home, it's OK to go. And that was really hard, but he had suffered so much already that it was selfish of me to try and keep him.

I got a call about an hour later, and they told me that he had passed. And he passed away 15 minutes after I told him it was OK to go. So I knew that it was something that he needed to hear so that he can peacefully go.

I cannot get used to not having him around. It's really hard. He was my best friend. He was so hands on with my daughter. Watching her cry is probably the hardest. My friend gave me a pillow as a gift with his face on it. It was meant for me, but it brings my daughter so much comfort during her grieving process that she sleeps with it. And I miss him. I can't figure out how to do life without him at this point. It's affected every aspect of my life, financially, emotionally, physically, and I don't wish this upon anybody. Anyone.

I want people to know that COVID is real, and it happens to anyone. It happened to us. He was 31 years old. We had a whole future ahead of us. We had plans, we had goals, and it was taken from us.