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Family seeks help celebrating 4-year-old's birthday after he lost both parents to COVID-19

Family seeks help celebrating 4-year-old's birthday after he lost both parents to COVID-19

Beyond the young boy's happiness, the family wishes people will take the pandemic seriously.

This Sunday young Raiden Gonzalez will celebrate his 5th birthday without either of his parents by his side. The pre-kindergarten student in San Antonio, Texas, lost both his parents to COVID-19 within a span of around 100 days and is yet to truly grasp the gravity of his loss. However, surviving members of Raiden's family — including his great-aunt Margie Bryant, whom he lovingly calls grandma — does not want the death of his parents, Adan and Mariah, to overshadow the youngster's special day. Instead, they're on a mission to make sure the boy knows how much he is loved, especially in the absence of his parents.



 

"It's a milestone birthday," Bryant told CNN. "We just want him (Raiden) to know that we're going to be there for all of his birthdays and make sure he's celebrated, and I know my niece has the cheesiest grin because she knows her boy is in good hands." The family currently has a "wave and roar" dinosaur-themed drive-by parade planned for November 28 which is expected to be attended by a local fire department, a Batman entertainer, monster truck clubs, motorcycle clubs, and classic car clubs. Beyond Raiden's happiness, the one thing Bryant wishes is for people to take the pandemic seriously and treat it as such.



 

"I can't say it enough... I know what it (Coronavirus) has done to us, and I know the hurt that we feel, the void that it has left in our hearts, this little boy who doesn't have his mom and dad now," she said. "You hear about the deaths, but you don't ever really hear about the people left behind, and in this instance, it's a 4-year-old." Raiden lives in San Antonio and is currently in the care of his maternal grandmother, Rozie Salinas, who told Good Morning America that the boy hasn't yet fully come to terms with his parents' death.



 

"He understands what happened with his dad and that his dad is an angel, but he can’t process yet that Mariah is gone and she is an angel too," she said. "There are times when he has his moments. He’ll ask why he can’t have his mommy back." Raiden's father, Adan Gonzalez Jr., tested positive for Covid-19 on June 3 — less than a month after he started a new job as a cement truck driver — and passed away on June 26 after spending nearly four weeks hospitalized with complications from the virus. The family believes Adan contracted COVID-19 through his work as the 33-year-old had no preexisting conditions and had just passed a physical exam for his job.



 

"It was very rapid," said Bryant. "Adan started having symptoms on May 31, what he referred to as allergies... and on June 3 he tested positive" for COVID-19. Raiden's mother, Mariah, passed away on October 6, less than 24 hours after she was taken by ambulance to the hospital from Salinas' home. Although the preschool teacher had been feeling fine up until the night before, she started to complain of chills, body aches, and difficulty breathing the next day and was taken away in an ambulance to the San Antonio hospital. "I didn’t think that was going to be the last time that I was going to see her," said Salinas. "By [the next] morning, she was gone."



 

The grieving mother revealed that the hospital staff initially said Mariah tested negative for COVID-19 but later claimed that another COVID-19 test came back positive after her death. "We’re still having trouble processing everything because she just went too quick," said Salinas. "It didn’t make any sense to us." While both of Raiden's parents had to continue working outside the home, family members revealed that they were very cautious about the virus and practiced precautionary measures at all times. "Because of the little one [Raiden] and because of the job that Mariah does, they were very cautious and they kept their exposure going out very limited," said Bryant. "Adan was a dad just trying to make a living for his family, and Mariah was too, and they were taking the precautions."



 

Raiden will "tell you, 'Covid took my dad,'" she explained. "And it's sad to hear him say that, but he says, 'My dad is an angel in the sky, he's in the clouds,' and that is how he has recorded it in his mind whenever people ask him. He's so smart. He has the most contagious laughter. It broke my heart to be the one to deliver this news to him about his mother, Mariah. I told him, 'The reason you haven't seen Mommy in the past couple of days is because Mommy got real sick, and Mommy is an angel in the sky now, too,' and he was just inconsolable. He says to me, 'I want to be an angel in the clouds with my Mommy and Daddy.' But I said, 'No, we don't even want to talk about that but know that they are everywhere, they are watching you.'"



 

The family plans to hold a funeral service for Adan and Mariah after the holidays and has set up a GoFundMe to cover those expenses and others to aid Salinas as Raiden's caregiver. "The sky is the limit," said Bryant. "He's such a smart little boy, so I want him to reach his dreams, and we're going to be a part of it, and I've told my sister she is not alone, we are all here... whether that's school or sports, whatever he wants, we're going to make sure that he has it and that he always remembers Mariah and Adan Jr."



 

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