INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — Two college students are mourning the loss of both their parents after they contracted COVID-19 earlier this month.
Their father, Doug Cook first was diagnosed with having the virus in early February. Their mom, Teri Cook took Doug to the hospital for help. However, his oxygen levels were too low.
"Once he contracted it he started feeling a little bit sicker than normal," Alexis Cook, the couple's daughter, said.
Eventually Teri also contracted the virus and the health of both her and Doug continued to decline.
"Their progress or lack thereof mirrored each other and that’s when we knew that they were planning this together," Alexis said.
Both Teri and Doug's beds were placed next to each other and spent their final moments together before eventually passing away.
"It’s obviously very tough losing both parents but whenever you kind of have that silver lining that both of them passing in the way they did that was just so poetically beautiful it did bring Alexis and I a lot of peace," Cody Cook, the couple's son, said.
Both Cody and Alexis were able to FaceTime their parents right before they died, giving them some sense of closure.
"It was incredibly difficult to see but I think Cody and I definitely needed to give our final parting words with them before they joined up in heaven," Alexis said.
41 Action News spoke with both Cody and Alexis through Zoom on Saturday as they were also battling the COVID-19 virus recovering at home. Both of them are in their 20s, trying to make sense of it all, without their parents by their side.
"I don't think I can fully operate right now without my parents but that's what we have to do so that's kind of now the reality that we're facing trying to navigate the world without them" Alexis said.
Teri was a special needs teacher at Independence Academy with the Independence School District for over 20 years.
"She was set on this earth to change lives and that was her purpose and she did that," Alexis said.
Doug was a jack of all trades, according to his son Cody, and was the comedian of the family. "His true passion in life was to make people laugh and smile," he said.
Their parents taught them how to be resilient in tough times which shows as they grieve their parents loss.
"We're holding each other strong and most importantly our parents left a legacy that we can hold our head up high and we want to share with people and that gives us a lot of strength in itself," Alexis said.
To honor their parents, both Cody and Alexis want to start two scholarships, one for education like their mother did, and another for vocational school for their dad.
"We have big shoes to fill with our parents they were both truly amazing people," Cody said.
There is a Go Fund Me page to raise money to funeral and medical expenses and the rest of the money will go towards those two scholarships.
Both Cody and Alexis sent 41 Action News tributes they wanted to share publicly to their parents.
“Tonight, Heaven gained two of the most perfect Angels. I cannot begin to thank you two for everything you’ve done for Alexis and I. Our biggest blessing in this world is you two. We will forever be grateful for having two parents as amazing as you.
You were literally my best friend, I told you everyday. I will never be able to thank you for the impact you had on my life. You didn’t give birth to me, but that never mattered to you. I was always your baby boy regardless of us not be blood. I’m going to miss our daily phone calls about absolutely nothing. You always knew how to cheer me up or put a smile on my face. You truly had the biggest heart of anyone I have ever met. I’m so happy that you taught me how to love others, care for others, and most importantly hold my head up high and be proud of the man I am. You loved teaching and most importantly you were the biggest beacon of light in so many people’s lives, not only the kids you taught. Teaching for you went behind the classroom, you truly loved everyone of your students. Alexis and I will continue your vision of not only positively impacting people’s education, but truly changing their lives.
You’re the only person in my life that has been there with me from the day I was born. You are my best buddy, I’m going to miss tinkering with you in the garage. I remember one day I told you, “Dad, I want to be just like you when I grow up.” You said, “Son, I want you to be better than me.” Little did you know dad, you are the best man I have ever know. I would be lucky to be half the man that you are. You taught me how to cuss, crack jokes, protect the ones you love, you taught me to work for everything I have, and most importantly, you taught me to be a man. You were the funniest person I have ever met and I am going to miss your laughs, jokes, and crazy enough your disgusting farts. You were the smartest man I have ever met and could fix ANYTHING. I will not stop in life dad until I make you proud, I promise.
My parents were fortunate enough to pass side by side with my Aunt Kristy praying for them. When the prayer concluded with “Amen”. My mom and dad went to there forever home, together. They weren’t in pain and went peacefully.
Please continue to pray over not only our family, but everyone hurting in this time. Alexis and I also tested positive for COVID today, we are both high risk and just ask for continued prayers.
Alexis and I are bent, but we are broken. We will hang tough and we will get though this together. We will continue to forge a legacy for both of our parents and will build something they both will be proud of.
Thank you to everyone who has supported us in this difficult time. Also, thank you to all the healthcare professionals that worked tirelessly to save our parents. We are forever grateful for everything you have done for our family.
I urge everyone, please wear a mask. It isn’t just for you, it is for all of us.”
“God gained my two favorite people, Doug and Teri, tonight.
Mom and Dad passed away peacefully a few moments ago in each other's company. They both started declining in health at the same pace and it was evident that they were waiting to pass away with one another. My Aunt Kristy got to say a prayer to them over the phone and the moment she finished saying "Amen," they passed. This was a sign from God and a sign from them that they needed each other on their route to Heaven.
Mom was by far the best human I ever met. She dedicated her life to serving others and making sure that everyone felt her love and support. She sacrificed everything she had to make sure Cody and I had the best childhood possible. Mom was intelligent, compassionate, intentional, understanding, and unconditionally loving. My mother was my absolute best friend and I don't know how I will get through life without her constant reassurance, back rubs, "you know better" lectures, and her words of encouragement for me to keep going. She reminded me every chance she could get, "You're my reason to live, baby girl." Mom, you are my everything and I will do anything I can to be a reflection of you.
Dad was just as much one of the best humans I've ever met. He dedicated himself to keeping life light and playful. He served others and made sure that he did everything in his power if it meant he helped one person. Dad was charismatic, goofy, understanding, encouraging, and unconditionally loving. My dad taught me how to work hard for what I want in life, and to never settle for anything less than I deserve. I don't know how I will get through life without his constant support, loud farts when things get too serious, "you are right where you need to be" lectures when I struggle in school, and his words of validation. He reminded me how much I was loved and how I will always be his little girl. Dad, I will never stop making you proud and be unapologetically me.
I am happy for my parents to hug and cry with their parents and grandparents in Heaven. I will miss them more than I can articulate, but I know they are in my heart and in the hearts of so many of you reading this. They are in a better place now and I love them both so much. Thank you all for your support during this time, and please pray that we find peace and comfort in the coming weeks.”