The mother, who had been in hospital alone, and her daughter had been texting each other. Both had hopes of seeing each other again.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on April 20, 2020. It has since been updated.
The last exchange between Minnoli Aya, 18, and her mother, Madhvi Aya, 61, a physician's assistant, will be something Minnoli is unlikely to forget ever in her life. Her mom was not just her mother but also her "best friend." Her devastated family is still reeling from their loss which was caused by the pandemic in the US and the rest of the world. As a frontline worker, Madhvi risked her life trying to save patients who were infected even though there wasn't enough Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
The 61-year-old who had been a doctor in India trained to be a physician assistant after she migrated to the United States. She used to work at the Woodhull Medical Center's emergency room. It is a public hospital in Brooklyn and understaffed. During her last days, she was alone at a different hospital while her husband, Raj, and daughter were only two miles away unable to visit. She used to text with her family before she passed away and complained of chest pain, according to NYTimes. They remember her as a "supermom," as per Reuters.
Raj had taken her to the hospital when her symptoms escalated on March 18, where she had a long wait alone before getting a bed. The health worker had asked her husband to take care of her mother and bring their daughter home from the University at Buffalo, where she was a freshman, the day after she was admitted to the hospital, according to NYTimes. They texted while she waited inside and he stayed in the parking lot for 1.5 hours.
Addressing her as "SH," short for "sweetheart" on text, they spoke for a while before she said, "You go home I call you I am waiting." The next morning around 5 a.m. she still hadn't gotten a bed. Raj wanted to bring her coffee the next day but she asked him not to. Her test result was back and she was positive. "I’m so sorry to hear," he replied.
Her daughter returned home on March 20th and heard about the positive test result. "I was just on the floor, and I was broken," Minnoli said. She used to text with her mom about how stressful college was and asking her to return soon. "I miss you, mommy. Please don’t give up hope because I haven’t given up. I need my mommy. I need you to come back to me," she said. "Love you," Madhvi wrote the next day. "Mom be back." She never made it back as she passed away on March 29th.
this is so tragic.— Reema Khrais (@reemakhrais) April 15, 2020
“They asked Mr. Aya if he wanted to see his wife for what could be the last time. He worried that his heart condition would put him at risk if he caught the virus, and Minnoli could be left without a parent.” https://t.co/mkHDyFkKEQ
Her final words to her daughter were of love and concern, just like a mom would be like: more worried about their child than themselves even in the hardest times. "Hi, mommy. College is getting so much more stressful now that it’s at home,” she had written on March 26. "The good thing is I’m home but I need you to come back here to me. I hope you ate dinner and I’m still praying for you and haven’t gave up hope." “Concentrate,” Ms. Aya responded. "I am but I want u home," said the 18-year-old. "Home soon," her mother said.
"I love you mommy with all my heart."
Protect our doctors, nurses and hospital staff so that they can protect us. Not a very difficult concept to understand. Yet our government STILL doesn’t get it. Because the economy, money, is more important to them than we are.— Shaun McCarron 🌎 (@DemandFactsNow) April 16, 2020
32,000+ have now died. Unforgivable.
Her husband laments not having been there when her condition worsened but the 64-year-old man had an aortic bypass in 2017. Madhvi's 86-year-old mother, Malti Masrani, who lived with them, had survived a stroke in late 2019. He weighed the risks and chose to not go see her when he received a call from the Long Island Jewish Medical Center. He wanted his daughter to have at least one surviving parent.
This is what all families who have children, or any other relatives or friends, working the front lines of virulent disease environments fear the most, whether they are “conservative or liberal”. I’m praying for daughter-in-law and son’s safety all the time. pic.twitter.com/m2lWNNwTkz— RG (@RAGarcia1492) April 16, 2020
"She didn't deserve to pass away the way she did. She deserved to live and see me graduate and become a doctor and get married and have kids," she told The Star. "She wasn't just my mother, she was my best friend. It's not fair the way she died," she added. "I actually had hopes that she was coming home and I would get to talk to her and tell her everything."
She kept texting her mother even after she had passed away. "I miss u," she wrote to her "mommy" before going to bed the night Madhvi passed away. The next morning, Minnoli sent her another text. "Thank you for coming to me last night in my dreams," she added, as per NYTimes.
They were not able to give her the funeral they wanted since it was unlikely that anyone would show up for it. So, they just cremated her.
Her family believes that she contracted the infection while treating patients at Woodhull with only a face mask, which is not enough to protect a frontline healthcare worker. The hospital hasn't responded. She is one of the 51 healthcare workers who died of this disease, as of April 15, as per Reuters. One of the other known cases was nurse Kious Kelly.
Representational Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by AntonioGuillem