PHOENIX — Arizona surpassed one million total reported cases and 18,000 COVID-19 deaths on Friday, and behind every number is a real person and families that have been changed forever.
Ruben Domingo Loera, 24, was known as the life of the party.
His sister Sara Loera said he was her little brother and best friend. They and their parents were very close.
"It’s all different now, it’s all different now. It’s hard getting used to not seeing him," she said. “I can honestly say that for the four of us, he was the love of our lives.”
She called life with him an adventure. Ruben was a jokester and the first to dance at a party.
"Always a goofball, always. Never a serious moment with him," said Loera.
He and Renee Macías were supposed to get married next year.
"Selfless, loyal, respectful, trustworthy, the funniest guy could ever, ever meet," she said. "When he wasn’t there, it felt empty and when he walked in, it was just whole again. He was my drummer boy.”
Ruben had been playing the drums since he was 7 years old. He was a member of a Phoenix band that played at church events all over.
The music stopped a few weeks ago when he and Macías got sick with COVID. Ruben ended up in the ICU on a ventilator for 12 days. His body never recovered.
“I miss him, you know, I want him here. But I can’t be selfish because I know he’s in such a better place, and I know that my soul and his soul always be connected in some way," said Macías.
Ruben and Macías weren't vaccinated and never expected to get the virus.
“I got my first dose this morning, and it was like I wish she was here you know with me getting it," she said.
His family says they'll honor him by staying faithful, making the most of their lives, and dancing as much as possible.
"He just wants us to live our best life while serving the Lord," said Macías.
“I think I’m going to miss most is just having him as my dance partner. Just having him around watching him dance," said Loera.
Family said hundreds of people showed up to Ruben's service and funeral, a testament to how much Ruben was loved and the kind of person he was.