Two North Texas brothers are sharing their story of love and hope after losing their mother last month to COVID-19.
Family photos depict happier times for J.C. Southard, 21, and his 16-year-old brother Jaxson.
Their mother, Jami Southard, died in December, months after contracting COVID-19.
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“She went on a ventilator … was on a ventilator for six days and passed away,” J.C. Southard said.
This year, they spent Christmas in Denton with their aunt and uncle, older sister and nieces.
“The first Christmas season without any parents is rough,” J.C. Southard said.
Since his mother's death, J.C. Southard has taken on a new role.
“Now J.C. has to be both a mom and a dad, and he’s only 21," Jaxson Southard said. "I think he’s already taken that beyond measure to be the best mom and dad I can have ever."
Their father, Rodney, died of prostate cancer in June 2013. The brothers said they have been inspired by their father's determination. He went to his job as an elementary school principal every day even as he was fighting his own battle with cancer.
In late October, Jami Southard, who had worked at Bridgeport Medical Lodge, was diagnosed with COVID-19 and pneumonia.
Coronavirus restrictions prevented the brothers from visiting their mother at Medical City Denton, and she was often too weak for phone calls.
Instead, words of love came in the form of texts, now forever treasured.
Just before she died, Jami Southard was able to see her oldest son graduate with a degree in nursing from Texas Tech -- inspired by the people who cared for his father.
J.C. Southard hopes other people treasure the time they have with their loved ones.
“COVID is real, and it’s hitting home, and it’ll hit a lot closer than people think," he said. "So I just want people to really love on their loved ones and make sure they know they are loved."