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March of 2022 marks two years since the first case of COVID-19 was reported in Nevada. “Changed by the Pandemic” is a KUNR series featuring stories from people whose lives and careers have been drastically altered by the pandemic.

Reflecting on loss and living during the COVID-19 pandemic

Darlene Dougherty smiles next to Dave Randolph. They’re in front of a large ship. There’s pink text over the image that reads, “Loved to Cruise.”
Courtesy of Darlene Dougherty
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Darlene Dougherty (left) and her husband Dave Randolph in November of 2008 as they were boarding a cruise on the Mediterranean Sea. The couple did 11 cruises and visited 31 countries.

Nevada recently surpassed 10,500 deaths from COVID-19. Last year, KUNR’s Lucia Starbuck talked with Darlene Dougherty who lost her husband to the virus. Dave Randolph died just before Christmas 2020. He was 84 years old.

“And because of the COVID conditions, we weren’t even able to have his memorial service until April,” Dougherty said.

Dougherty moved to Boise to be closer to family. The last two years haven’t been easy, but she’s trying. She spoke to Lucia again to check in and catch up.

_______

I’m Darlene Dougherty. My husband passed away on the 13th of December in 2020. 

I don’t know whether I have felt joy yet. It’s certainly a pleasure, meaning my niece, who I’ve moved close to, has seven children. The oldest one, graduating from high school this year and the youngest one, two and a half, so all age groups. 

It’s interesting how after you lose someone, people say, “Well, it’ll get better.” Well, I can tell you what: it doesn’t. Because what I find happens is the first time you redo something that you always did together, it’s all, “Oh, Dave’s not here.”

My most recent event, since my husband passed away in December of ‘20, my oldest brother passed away in March of ‘21. I had to have a dog put to sleep, I had to help my step-daughter bury her husband, and so I said, “This is enough,” but anyway, she had arranged for Airbnb lodging for us while we were at my son-in-law’s funeral. And it was really the first time I’d stayed in a hotel-motel kind of thing since COVID, and since Dave’s passing. And because I traveled for so many years, I rolled my bag into the bedroom where I was going to be at the Airbnb, took off my coat, hung it up, and then said, “Oh, I need to call Dave and let him know I got here safely.” And then I’m like, “Okay, how are you going to call him?” So, just everything reminds you.

Darlene Dougherty smiles for a photo as she stands outside in front of a large green bush. It’s bright and sunny.
Lucia Starbuck
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KUNR Public Radio
Darlene Dougherty outside the KUNR station in Reno, Nev., on Feb., 25, 2022.

One of the first things I decided to do when we were all quarantined and couldn’t go anywhere was to see if I couldn’t update my address book. This Christmas was the first that I felt like I could deal with that list. I sent out, I think it was 97, Christmas cards. I not only got lovely responses and have reconnected with roommates from the Army, and with undergraduate college roommates, with graduate college roommates, with work associates throughout the years and everything. But I’ve also been notified of good friends I have that have passed away and people sent me their obituaries and so forth. So, it gave me a total update on my friendship circles. It’s been great for me, too, to have that support and rebuild those relationships. 

I guess I should probably say, “Remember that you do need to go on living.” There are things to live for. I want to get to the point so I can entertain in my house. I probably will get back to bowling. I still want to cook and do those kinds of things. And be able to do that with my great nieces. And I hope I have a long life left to live.


Darlene Dougherty spoke to KUNR’s Lucia Starbuck on Feb. 25, 2022.

This story was produced by Starbuck and is part of our series “Changed by the Pandemic.” Starbuck is a corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project.

Produced with assistance from the Public Media Journalists Association Editor Corps funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people.

Lucia Starbuck is a corps member with Report for America focusing on community reporting and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Local community issues are her passion, including the affordable housing crisis, homelessness, a lack of access to healthcare, protests and challenges facing vulnerable communities in northern Nevada.
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