‘We Followed the President’s Orders’

This episode contains strong language.

Hilma Wolitzer lost her husband, Morty Wolitzer, a psychologist who loved cooking and jazz, on April 11, 2020. They had been together for 68 years.

Mary-Margaret Waterbury’s uncle Michael Mantlo had introduced her to Nirvana, grunge and Elvis Costello. “Light sparkled from him,” she said.

After Terrie Martin’s first born, April Marie Dawson, died at age 43, Ms. Martin said she carried around guilt for not taking more precautions. “I killed my daughter,” she said. “And I have learned nothing from loss.”

Carmen Nitsche’s mother, Carmen Dolores Nitsche, died on May 14, 2020. They were only a few miles apart, but she said she was unable to hold her mother’s hand on her final journey.

Katherine Brooks lost her husband, William Brooks, on August 16, 2021. Their daughter was 4 months old at the time. “All he ever wanted was to be a father,” she said. “I miss him every day.”

In the coming days, the number of known deaths from Covid-19 in the United States is expected to reach one million.

We asked listeners to share memories about loved ones they have lost — and about what it’s like to grieve when it seems like the rest of the world is trying to move on.

“Time keeps moving forward, and the world desperately wants to move past this pandemic,” one told us. “But my mother — she’s still gone.”

American flags were lowered to half-staff on Thursday to commemorate the coming milestone of one million Covid deaths in the United States.
Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA, via Shutterstock

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Special thanks to Julie Bosman, Patricia Willens, Chelsea Daniel, Monica Davey, Aliza Aufrichtig and Matt Ruby.

Fact-checking by Caitlin Love.

The Daily is made by Lisa Tobin, Rachel Quester, Lynsea Garrison, Clare Toeniskoetter, Paige Cowett, Michael Simon Johnson, Brad Fisher, Larissa Anderson, Chris Wood, Jessica Cheung, Stella Tan, Alexandra Leigh Young, Lisa Chow, Eric Krupke, Marc Georges, Luke Vander Ploeg, M.J. Davis Lin, Dan Powell, Dave Shaw, Sydney Harper, Robert Jimison, Mike Benoist, Liz O. Baylen, Asthaa Chaturvedi, Kaitlin Roberts, Rachelle Bonja, Diana Nguyen, Marion Lozano, Corey Schreppel, Anita Badejo, Rob Szypko, Elisheba Ittoop, Chelsea Daniel, Mooj Zadie, Patricia Willens, Rowan Niemisto, Jody Becker, Rikki Novetsky and John Ketchum.

Our theme music is by Jim Brunberg and Ben Landsverk of Wonderly. Special thanks to Sam Dolnick, Paula Szuchman, Cliff Levy, Lauren Jackson, Julia Simon, Mahima Chablani, Sofia Milan, Desiree Ibekwe, Wendy Dorr, Elizabeth Davis-Moorer, Jeffrey Miranda, Renan Borelli and Maddy Masiello.

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