Biba Adams

Detroit’s COVID-19 Victims Honored with Remembrance Day

March 2020 was a whirlwind for many as the coronavirus pandemic hit. For Detroit journalist Biba Adams, it was the start of a season of loss.

Her 70-year-old mother, Elaine Head, seemed slightly off to Biba at a family get together March 7; by March 18 Elaine had symptoms of COVID-19 and went to get tested.

Eight days later, the test results hadn’t returned – but Elaine was sicker than ever and was admitted to the hospital. At the time, the coronavirus was mainly thought to be a problem for travelers with international contacts to China. The family thought Elaine had a cold; she was extremely fatigued and had difficulty breathing. It was no cold – it was the coronavirus.

By April 22, Biba had to say goodbye to her mother. As the pandemic progressed, Biba also lost her grandmother and great-aunt to COVID-19.

“It’s hard to believe that it’s real; things are so different in my life,” Biba said. “It just feels like it shouldn’t have happened.”

Elaine’s photo is among the hundreds included in a tribute to the more than 1,500 Detroit residents who have died from the new coronavirus at a memorial Aug. 31 at Belle Isle State Park. Families whose loved ones have died have submitted photos for a display at the park. Behind every face is a story.

“I think it is important to be a part of the event because my mom was a very passionate Detroiter,” Biba said of her mother. “She loved this city and I feel like I want her to be remembered as a citizen and contributor to Detroit.”

For Biba, her mother’s spirit lives on in her passions. Elaine loved jazz and gospel music, stemming from her career in her 20s singing in clubs across Detroit. Elaine also loved shoes; taking trips to the thrift store every Saturday and finding a thrill in her newfound treasures.

She was lovingly known for being the “black sheep” in the family – a quirk Biba believes she inherited.

Biba was able to say goodbye to her mother in the hospital; but with her mother on a ventilator, it was difficult to truly have closure up until recently.

“We did a celebration of her life in my back yard,” Biba said. “Once that was over, I really did feel a much stronger sense of peace.”

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Photo credit: Courtesy of Biba Adams.

 

 

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