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Pause In Dallas During National Moment Of Prayer For COVID-19 Victims

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Skies across North Texas glowed warm amber Tuesday night, Jan 19.

The bells in Dallas' Thanksgiving Square joined a nationwide chorus.

A National Moment of Prayer led by President-elect Joe Biden's Inaugural Committee paid tribute to the victims of COVID-19.

"I think we just need to take a beat for a second and realize how many people we've lost. 400,000 people," said Kaitlyn Urenda Culpepper.

Her mother, who worked as a nurse in El Paso, died from the virus in July, after it spread through the family.

"It was just watching her disintegrate before your eyes. She couldn't breathe. Her lips were blue," said Kaitlyn.

There was never even a chance for a proper goodbye.

"If you lost a loved one to COVID, you know you likely didn't get the funeral you wanted," she said.

As part of the Floral Heart Project honoring those who've died, Culpepper lay a six-foot garland of roses shaped like a heart at Turtle Creek Park on Tuesday.

COVID-19 memorial
Garland of roses shaped like a heart (CBS 11)

Nathan Navejas, 17, came too, to leave flowers in memory of his father.

It was Estanislao Rodriguez's skill with a guitar that inspired Nathan to take up the cello.

Last March, Nathan's orchestra got the chance to travel to New York to play in Carnegie Hall.

"My grandfather was so excited for me," he recalled.

At the time, the virus had just begun popping up in the United States, but when the family returned home, it quickly became clear, they'd brought it back with them.

"Our whole family got sick," said Nathan.

His mother, Mariana Navejas, was one of several family members hospitalized.

"It's hard. It's really hard," she said.

Everyone eventually recovered, except her dad.

"I think that's the hardest part, seeing your dad alone and taking his last breath by himself with no one holding his hand or his children around him. I think that's really traumatizing for the families of people," she said.

Having the country take a moment to reflect and remember, though, she says, offers some comfort.

"I think it brings families comfort to let them know their loved ones aren't forgotten and that everyone is thinking about them and their family."


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