Maria was the head nurse at Kings County Hospital's Emergency Room. Her four daughters are all nurses - two are in Brooklyn and two are in the Philippines. Nursing and caring are in their blood.
"She showed me how to be selfless. She showed me how to love unconditionally, and most of all, how to be kind to others. She would always tell me that my patients should always be first," said her daughter, Fatima Cabillon.
At the end of March, Maria came down with a fever. Then, she lost her sense of taste and smell. A few days later, she went to the emergency room but was sent home.
Then, after two days, she started experiencing shortness of breath. She was back in the ER. She fought hard in the ICU for 26 days. Halfway through, things got worse.
"She said she was scared to get intubated," said her daughter.
Those would be the last words Maria would speak to her daughter before things got dark. Yet she never even told her family she had tested positive for COVID-19 weeks earlier. She was always calm and never complained. It was just her way.
"She never told us anything. She kept it from us because she doesn't want us to worry," said her daughter.
"When she passed away, it was like a black hole in the ER. You could feel the ripples of grief," said nurse Shane Degracia.
After she passed away last week, the hospital staff filled the sky with love - and a final distress call from NYPD, FDNY, and first responders - sirens.
"Through and through, she's a mother. That's what it is. She loved fiercely, but she was able to run that place like a household," added DeGracia, "I love you like you are my own mom. Thank you for protecting us and treating us like one of your own."
CLICK HERE for a GoFundMe set up in Maria's honor.
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