I am deeply honored to share that my project, the St. Louis COVID Memorial, was recently featured in the Associated Press column “One Good Thing.” This column tells the story of how I started this memorial to honor the lives of those in the St. Louis area who have been lost to COVID-19.

It broke my heart to see so many people in our community dying from the coronavirus, remembered less for who they were and more as statistics of the pandemic. In June, while scrolling through my phone and waiting for dinner, I came across a New York City website that was tracking lives lost to the virus. By the time my food arrived, I had purchased the domain name for what would become StLouisCovidMemorial.com.

Working from my dining room in the Dutchtown neighborhood of St. Louis, often with my beloved cockatoos Boo, Arthur, and Misha nearby, I began documenting the lives of those we lost. My companions provide much-needed comfort when the stories become overwhelming. No person with Alzheimer’s or dementia or in a nursing home should have to die alone. Nobody should go into a hospital and never see their kids again.

Since June, I’ve posted short life stories about over 125 people. These stories provide glimpses into their lives and deaths, ensuring they are remembered as cherished individuals, not just numbers. One such story is of MaryCatherine Keene, a 94-year-old nursing home resident who worked as an airplane riveter during World War II. Another is of Rheumatologist Edward Rose, who loved a noisy home with children playing and hosting raucous dinner parties.

The feedback from relatives of the deceased has been profoundly moving. Their words of appreciation motivate me to continue this work, even when it feels like I’m just posting into the void. Joyce “Lady J” Huston, who runs a Facebook page commemorating Black victims of the pandemic in St. Louis, emphasized the importance of remembering these individuals as more than just statistics.

Moving forward, I hope to collaborate with other memorial sites across the country to establish a national day of remembrance. This project is self-funded, and while I have no plans to solicit donations, I do wish for more time to tell better stories and to put more faces behind the numbers.

Thank you to everyone who has supported this effort. Your encouragement means the world to me and to the families affected by this pandemic. Together, we are creating a lasting tribute to those we have lost.

You can read the full story and learn more about “One Good Thing” at the AP News website.

Photo credit: Jeff Roberson