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Melissa Warner Burrows, 56: Paul Anka's 'Times of Your Life'

Melissa Warner Burrows
via Jessica Burrows Falcon

In March 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. Two years later, more than a million people have died in the United States from the disease. To put a face on this number and pay respect to the departed, NPR asked our audience to share songs that reminded them of a loved one lost to COVID-19. What follows are individual stories of those who have passed, those mourning them and the songs that continue to unite them.


She was diagnosed with COVID in late December of 2021. The last time I actually got to hug her and see her, alive and awake, was Christmas Day.

I was blessed with so many memories of my mother, especially because she had a stroke at the age of 37 when my brother and I were really young. There was a point when they weren't sure if my mother was going to make it, and she did. So I think of all the memories that we got to have, and I was lucky that I had a second chance to make with her.

You get a lot of mornings where you wake up, and there's that little moment before your brain's fully awake. And you forget. You forget what happened. And then you fully wake up, and then you remember, "That's right. They're gone." Especially in the first couple of weeks after she had died, it was hard waking up: I feel like I've got to check on her. I'm used to the routine of calling the hospital to get the morning report. And then it's having to stop and go, "Wait, that's not happening anymore."

This was a song that my mom and my grandfather, my Pop-Pop, danced to at her wedding. My mom and my grandfather were very much the same: They both were happy to be behind the scenes, they didn't really want to be in the spotlight, but they were very caring, handy people. I'd like to think that they are up in heaven having a father-daughter dance to that song right now. Hopefully when I'm a very old lady and I've had my own children and grandchildren, I will see her again on that other side. —Jessica Burrows Falcon, daughter

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