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Cape Ann Museum Honors 2,200 COVID Victims In Essex County

GLOUCESTER (CBS) - A projector tossed squares of light toward the heavens Wednesday night -- representing the 2200 souls lost to COVID in Essex County -- on the first anniversary of its wretched grip. Two of the squares, are personal to Karen Nascembeni.

"Steven and I went into the hospital on March 17 -- St. Patrick's Day," she says. "Within a week he had died and his dad died five days after that."

Nascembeni is the General Manager of the North Shore Music Theater. Her husband and her father-in-law were both killed by the virus, which put her in the hospital for 65 days -- half of them intubated.

She came to the Cape Ann Museum "Green" Wednesday night, for a mostly virtual effort to promote healing.

"It gives me a lot of peace," Nascembeni says, "that their memories and spirit are still important to people."

It was important to the museum, which is honoring Cape Ann's still grieving families -- with light, a memorial quilt, and a patch of cairns -- one for the cousin of Gloucester's Mayor, who died just two weeks ago.

"Now I go to all these wakes," said Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken, "and you can't hug that family, you can't shake their hand, you can't do anything."

Gathering limits prevented many of those who lost loved-ones from attending in-person, but they can book private time for reflection -- through Sunday.

The program was streamed live, with the Mayor urging folks not to become numb to the numbers.

"It makes us acknowledge that no matter who or where you are," says the mayor, "someone is suffering and we're all suffering with them."

But through that suffering, Karen Nascembeni says she's also harnessed a new sense of gratitude.

"I can't think about not having Steven for the next 30 years," she says. "I have to be grateful for the 30 years I had him."

And she hopes remembrances like the one in Gloucester Wednesday night, will keep COVID victims from being forgotten -- in the midst of growing pandemic fatigue.

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