With his arms outstretched, surrounded by water and fresh air, Eric Pitts felt at peace. A spot in downtown Miami along the water offers him a safe haven from months of pain.
The 47-year-old Miami native lost his mother, his father and his brother to COVID-19 this summer.
"It’s a very painful and hurtful situation to go through in two months," Eric said.
It started when his father -- Reverend Marvin Pitts -- died from the virus in May.
Six weeks later, his mother, Dorothy Pitts, got sick and needed a ventilator.
His brother, Marvin Jr., also ended up in the hospital and didn’t recover.
Once his family fell ill, Eric got tested twice and was negative both times. Days later, he felt sick and ended up at Mount Sinai’s emergency room, where he spent two weeks fighting for his life.
"You had the loss of your father, and while you’re in the hospital, your brother passed," Eric said. "Me watching his funeral on Facebook live, and there’s nothing I can do."
Overcome with grief, Eric relied on his faith and plasma treatments to recover, but it was the loss of his mother that really tested his strength. He says she was committed to serving her community, and that they used to talk every day.
“I can hear her voice saying, you need to get your butt up and do what I taught you to do," Eric said.
Eric admits he’s angry and sad, but he’s trying to focus on what matters - like memories.
"We were able to enjoy each other, not knowing that was going to be our last time fellowshipping," he said. "We danced and sang songs together.”
Now he wants to keep his mother’s memory alive by doing what she loved -- helping others. He hopes to open society’s eyes to the virus that ravaged his family.
"Those numbers are real, there are people dying every day from this virus," Eric said. "When the Twin Towers came down, the U.S. was in an uproar. We need that same drive for COVID-19 bc we’re losing loved ones daily.”