PHOENIX — As we head toward the new year, there is a somber reminder we're still losing more lives by the day to coronavirus.
One Valley family just spent their first Christmas without their parents. Both died after battling COVID-19 at the same time.
"It seems like the more time that passes, the harder it is getting,” said Stephanie Walker.
Twin sisters Stephanie and Charissa Walker, along with their brother Jonathan, lost both of their parents just 46 hours apart.
"[...] losing both is a nightmare,” said Charissa.
Mom, Sue, and dad, Bob, were both hospitalized in late November shortly after receiving positive results on a pair of COVID home testing kits.
Both parents passed away just days later.
Their ashes arrived in their children's possession right before Christmas. The family always spent time together on that holiday.
"It was like a Christmas present for us, in a sense, but not the one we wanted,” added Stephanie.
"It's just hard with all those memories to come flooding back and being with your parents on Christmas,” added Charissa.
The siblings tell ABC15 their parents had no life insurance and nearly all of the cash raised in an online fundraiser will go to an attorney.
They still need to pay for the cremations and say the stress, nearly a month later, is almost unbearable.
The Walker family wants anyone who doubts COVID is real to look at their experience.
“It is real. You could be standing where we are right now if you don't take it seriously and it's the worst place in the world to be standing,” added Stephanie.
The Walker family is continuing to collect money using an online fundraiser. You can find it by clicking here.
The family hopes to give the couple a memorial service on March 1, 2022, which would have marked their 45th wedding anniversary.