The devastated widow says she is struggling to wrap her head around the new reality.
Before the world came to a standstill, families around the world had plans for summer. Kids would have been excited to get outdoors and adults were looking forward to a much-needed vacation. Fast-forward a couple of months, now all we want is for our loved ones and family to be safe and indoors. Who knew summer dreams would change so drastically in a couple of weeks?
While some of us miss the good old summer days, there are those who have lost a lot more than the sun and the sea. Many have lost a dear one forever never to see them again. One of the many families who are spending this summer grieving is the Bradin family from Long Island. Two toddlers lost their dad and Jenn Bradin lost her beloved husband.
In an exclusive interview, Jenn Bradin, 36, told PEOPLE that Yoni, was a "devoted" husband and she can't come to terms with the devastating reality of his absence from her life. Yoni breathed his last on April 20 in the hospital where he was isolated.
"It's surreal to think he's not here anymore. It's such a devastating loss," she said. "You're talking about someone who had a full life still ahead of him and it was taken away in a snap of a finger by something that nobody could've ever seen coming."
Jenn and her late husband have two kids together, Bella, 3, and Noah, 1. The mother-of-two revealed that amidst this tough time, it is her little daughter Bella who has has been consoling and comforting her.
"There are nights where I lay with her and cry—because, to me, she needs to see my emotions too and know that I'm sad about it —and she'll say, 'Why are you crying?' and I'll say, 'I miss Aba [dad in Hebrew]. I'm thinking about him,'" Jenn recalls. What the child said next reveals how much wisdom and trust young children carry even when dealing with a life-altering loss. The emotional mother said, "And she'll cup my face with her hands, and she'll say, 'It's okay, Mommy, Aba's in heaven, and in our hearts and our heads.'"
To see a girl as young as Bella comforting her mother is a blessing during such trying times. Although Jenn does acknowledge that Bella does not "understand the permanency" of her father's absence. And, perhaps, when she does understand that her father is gone never to return, her world will change forever.
"She understands it from a black and white perspective. If I ask her to tell me what happened to him, she will tell me that he got this sickness — that's what she calls it — and it killed him and he died, and now he's in heaven," Jenn explains. "But then the next day, she'll say to me, 'I hate the sickness. I wish it would go away because then maybe Aba would get better and come back.'"
"There are so many different ranges of emotions that she has," she continues. "It's crazy to think that my 3-and-a-half-year-old is comforting me sometimes."
Yoni was diagnosed with pneumonia in February and then tested positive for the virus that ultimately took his life. Jenn recalled the say she went to drop him off at the emergency room and how hard it was for her to see her beloved slip away.
"I remember when I dropped him off at the emergency room, we were so nervous that I didn’t kiss him goodbye," she says through her tears. "Right before they intubated him, I was able to talk to him and it was the last time I spoke to him. He called me and told me that he loved me and to hug and kiss the kids, which was really hard to hear."
The mother also recalls a particularly heartbreaking moment from Yoni's funeral when she had to witness his 90-year-old grandfather, a holocaust survivor, watch his grandson be buried. "His grandfather lost his entire immediate family in Auschwitz when he was a young boy," she explains. "One of the most devastating things about that day, for me, was him sitting there having to watch his grandson, who he was so close to, be buried."
"After going through so much unimaginable tragedy in his life to now have to see this," she continues. "He was so proud of Yoni and they spoke all the time, so that’s been one of the hardest things."
A GoFundMe campaign has been set up for the Bradin family to recover the medical expenditure and funeral costs as well as to support the kids' educational aspirations in the future. As the family continues to grieve, Jenn finds comfort in the memories she and her husband made together.
"He was so genuine. He had the ability to walk into any room and light it up and could connect with anyone, no matter what their background was," she said. "He loved me so much. There was a connection there that I never had with anyone else before. The kind of love that we had, it was almost like we were put on this Earth for each other."