TEMPE — It'll be the first Christmas she spends without her father.
Tara Krebbs has been outspoken about the impact of losing her father earlier this year. She and her mother are still struggling to understand how quickly it claimed his life, and the lives of nearly 8,000 Arizonans.
"It’s just... it’s a nightmare," said Krebbs. "When I see these numbers, I know exactly what these people are going through, I know exactly what that hospital stay looks like... And my heart just breaks for them on every level.”
With the holidays fast approaching, it's hard to think of celebrating, but Krebbs said she was inspired to pay tribute to the men, women and families who, too, will be one or more person short this Christmas.
“Showing their photos and saying their names is just that reminder that they were important, they still are important, their families are important and they’re not gonna be forgotten," said Krebbs.
"My dad cared so much about people and so much about community this is the only purpose I can find in all of this. And I think that’s what he would really want," she added.
The memorial was partly inspired by Krebbs' newfound friend, Kristin Urquiza, who is the co-founder of Marked by COVID, an organization helping spread stories of families who've suffered a loss due to the widespread virus.
"In so many other tragic crises, whether it’s 9/11 or a terrible shooting, we take time to acknowledge and recognize the people who have been lost," she said. "I think when it comes to this pandemic, we will see more and more cities, more and more states doing this.”
Alongside the paper stockings, Krebbs displayed photos sent in by families of loves ones they'll be missing this Christmas.
Krebbs is hopeful the display serves not just as a memorial, but as a reminder of how many lives COVID-19 has already taken, and how many more we could lose, as health experts predict another surge in cases.
“When my dad died in August, the death count was around 4000," said Krebbs. "In those four months, it’s doubled. It’s horrifying to me and to know that number can continue to increase."