When everything began shutting down at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, 17-year-old Anthony Reyes Jr. wrote a heartfelt essay, writing “the way the pandemic affected me most is through my mental state.”
He went on to explain all the closures and the loneliness were making him sad. At the time, Anthony had no idea how deeply the pandemic would affect his family.
“At the end of August, my family and I contracted COVID and within a matter of days, I lost my husband,” his heartbroken mother, Stephanie Reyes, explained.
Anthony Michael Reyes was only 46 years old when he died from COVID-19 complications. When the hospital allowed one family member to see him for a final goodbye, Anthony Jr. begged his mom to let him be the one to go inside.
“My son wanted to go see his dad [and] against my better judgment, I let him go. It was the worst mistake I did,” she said.
Anthony Jr. struggled to deal with such a tremendous loss and to make matters worse, he blamed himself for his father’s death because his parents had accompanied him to a school pep rally.
“He felt guilty. He felt like he was the one who got us sick. He felt like he was the reason why his dad was gone and we talked to him all the time, and told him ‘It wasn’t your fault,'” Mrs. Reyes said.
She was well aware her son was depressed. She tried repeatedly to get him into counseling, but she says everyone she turned to was booked months in advance.
On December 28, 2021, Stephanie woke up at 4 a.m. when she noticed her son’s room had the light on.
“I knock on the door to his room and I’m like, ‘Hey, kid, it’s 4 in the morning, what are you doing?’”
That’s when she realized tragedy struck and that she saw her son had lost his battle with depression. Anthony Jr. had taken his own life.
“He was gone. I couldn’t believe my baby’s gone,” she recalled of that horrific morning.
Stephanie is now sharing her painful loss to warn other parents about the dangers of depression.
“I know a lot of kids are hurting and I want parents to look for the signs and to get help right away, especially for the kids who lost a significant person in their life,” she explained.
Anthony Jr.’s funeral will be held on Saturday, January 22, 2022.