I didn't want to push my aunt to get the vaccine. Now I live with regrets.

Fourteen days passed from the time of my aunt’s positive test to the day they wheeled her into ICU, sedated her and intubated her by inserting a tube into her lungs. In the days leading up to that point, she was perfectly alert, laboring to breathe but with the ability to text from her hospital bed.

Along the way we exchanged messages. I asked her if she needed me to travel to the hospital with a bike pump and fill those lungs of hers with air. “I think that would help,” she jokingly wrote back. I sent flowers, a card and chocolates a day before they moved her into ICU. While eating the chocolates, she texted me a thank you note. She really got a kick out of the card, which I wrote with inspiration from a TV show we both loved: Seinfeld.

A music lover, she complained that there were no “good vibes” in the ICU (eventually, we set up a transistor radio for her, and it played and played while she lay sedated).

A few days later, hours before intubation, I sent her another text, this one more serious. There’s no room for it all here. And I’m not sure I’ll ever reveal its full contents. But I told her that she means more to me than just about anyone on this Earth and that I am the man I am today partly because of who she is. It rubbed off on me, I texted.

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