Our family shared a tremendous loss on Aug. 19, six months after the pandemic took hold in Bexar County. That’s the day I lost Jerry, my 71-year-old husband of  52 years. The rest of my family lost their father, grandfather, brother, and uncle. If you are reading this, you know we lost Jerry to COVID-19.

Jerry was a native San Antonian and a 1967 graduate of Lee High School. He played on the 1965 team that went to the 4A state football championship in San Angelo and lost to Permian, 11-6. He went on to win a football scholarship to the University of Texas.

Jerry Townsend in his UT football uniform in the late ’60s. Credit: Courtesy / Joan Reeder Townsend

Jerry enjoyed a long career with the San Antonio Police Department, spending his final years on the force investigating financial crimes. He retired as a decorated department veteran after 33 years.

All of Jerry’s friends and former co-workers lost him, too. Some were lifelong friends, and some just good friends he met in recent years. In every instance and every relationship, love was lost. Granted, different kinds of love, but love nonetheless. All of us share a terrible void and a heavy heartache that only time will ease.  

I tested positive for COVID-19 on July 14, my deceased younger brother’s birthday. Mason, one of our grandsons, had been working on a project with Jerry, his “Pawpaw,” at our house, and so the decision was made that 17-year-old Mason would quarantine with us. We all slept in separate bedrooms. None of us were ever in the same room at the same time. Of course, everything was disinfected as needed. 

Jerry contacted his infectious disease doctor and inquired about what he could take that might prevent him from contracting the disease. The doctor recommended over-the-counter medications and suggested I take them, too. We were both extremely concerned and watched continually for symptoms. We felt pretty confident that he was going to be fine until around July 28.  

By July 31, Jerry was exhibiting strong symptoms of COVID, so I took him to the emergency room. He waited in the car while I went inside and was met by a nurse fully clothed in protective gear. She gave me a wheelchair and instructed me to bring Jerry in from the car and then leave immediately. I did not know it at that point,  but our time together here on this earth ended right then and there. Jerry never came home.

Jerry was in the hospital from July 31 until August 19, when he passed away. At times, we had great hope, at other times moments of great despair. It was a roller coaster of emotions. Our family’s story will parallel those of other families who have lost loved ones to this terrible disease. It comes like a thief in the night and changes lives forever.  

We families share this pain with one another, and with thousands of other families who have lost a loved one to COVID-19. To those of you who lost a loved one, we truly know how you feel, and we ache for you just as we do for ourselves. Maybe we can find some solace from each other in sharing our stories. My family’s love to all of yours. 

You can watch Jerry’s funeral service here.