A group of Manitobans is raising money to help two grown children left in mourning when their parents both fell ill and succumbed to COVID-19.
Monique and Perry Buote died in November, just 16 days apart, after both contracted the virus.
Within days of being tested, Monique, 55, took a very quick turn for the worst and lost her battle with the virus on Nov. 3, passing away at home overnight.
“She didn’t wake up,” her best friend Celine Petit said. “We tried to call Monique and there was no answer. Monique had already been in respiratory failure at that time.”
Petit called an ambulance to the Buote family’s home but it was too late. At the same time, Perry was having trouble breathing and was rushed to the hospital in Steinbach and was eventually moved to a facility in Winnipeg.
Both of their adult children, Adam and Jesslyn, remained in isolation at home also fighting COVID-19.
Perry died on Nov. 19.
“It was awful an awful experience for these two kids that no one could go in and be there for them,” Petit said.
“Not being able to touch them or hug them or anything to console them.”
Once the kids’ isolation was up, Petit moved into the family’s home to care for the two who are still struggling to come to terms with their parents’ deaths.
“They just couldn’t believe it,” Petit said. “The kids were just ‘this is not real.’ Every morning they would say ‘this can’t be true.’ They felt like it was a terrible dream.”
Adam and Jesslyn live with special needs and will require ongoing financial help for years to come — from household maintenance and property taxes, to home care for themselves.
“They’re always wondering how they’re going to pay the hydro and how they’re going to pay cable,” Monique’s sister Claudette Hupe said. “Monique took care of everything.”
Family and friends are now fundraising in the hope of helping the kids.
“Leaving two dependent children at home who are unable to look after themselves physically, mentally and financially … we are looking to help them out,” Gilbert Audette said.
Audette is the Chief Executive Officer for Villa Youville in Ste. Anne, where Monique worked for many years, more recently as a home care attendant.
He’s now helping spearhead a fundraising committee that’s been set up and helped launch a GoFundMe campaign for the kids.
“They are fighting through and trying to grasp the reality of this situation,” he said. “They are definitely appreciating that they are not alone in this.”
Audette said Monique was a beloved health-care aide who spent decades giving back to her home community in Ste. Anne and hopes that now the community will step up during this time of need.
“She’s paid it forward for many years now it’s time for the community to pay it back,” he said.
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