LODI, N.J. (WPIX/Tribune/CNN) - A community is grieving the loss of a mother and son who died a week apart from coronavirus.
Carolyn Martins-Reitz died in late March, a devoted mother and caretaker for her beloved son, Thomas Martins, who had Down syndrome. He died a little over a week later, on his 30th birthday. (Source: Martins-Reitz/WPIX/CNN)
The coronavirus death toll is now nearly 8,000 in New York and tops 1,700 in New Jersey. Behind every one of those numbers is a face a name and loved ones in mourning.
Carolyn Martins-Reitz died in late March, a devoted mother and caretaker for her beloved son, Thomas Martins, who had Down syndrome. He died a little over a week later, on his 30th birthday.
“Carolyn was completely wrapped up in Thomas and Thomas in her as well. They were just very very close. He was her world, and like I said, she the same for him,” said Dana Regan, director of the 21 and older program for special needs adults at The Felician School For Exceptional Children.
“We got the staff together on a Zoom session and sang ‘Happy Birthday’ all together. We recorded it, and then I was able to talk to Thomas a little bit and give him some stories and what was going on, and play that video for him so he can hear us all wishing him a happy birthday,” she said.
Thomas Martins passed away just hours later.
His friends hope even though he was not conscious, he could hear them when the nurses put the video up to his hospital bed.
Regan has known Martins for over a decade.
“He was an avid dancer, loved to dance, loved music, loved singing. He was everybody’s friend. Thomas was a very upbeat, happy go lucky kind of guy, always smiling, always super friendly,” she said.
He leaves behind his stepdad and sister, who are now dealing with a double loss.
Regan finds peace in believing that mother and son are together once again.
“I think she knew that he would be happiest with her. I don’t know how he could’ve woken up and feel that devastating loss and then try to go on and do things he always did without her by his side,” she said.
Loved ones of the two have set up a Gofundme page to help pay for funeral expenses and medical bills.
Copyright 2020 WPIX and Tribune via CNN. All rights reserved.