Sask. sisters mourn mother Nelda Maurice, who died after COVID diagnosis

Nelda Maurice's daughters say she was the rock of their family and that saying goodbye to her has been the hardest thing they have ever done.

Île-à-la-Crosse woman turned 64 in March, tested positive on April 30

Nelda Maurice (top left) is shown with daughter Krystal to the right, husband Leonard below and daughter Lana on the bottom right. (Submitted by Lana Maurice)

Nelda Maurice's daughters said letting their mom go is the hardest thing they will ever do. 

"She was up and happy, lively, always dancing and singing, and then just suddenly we were forced to live without her," Krystal Maurice, 25, said.

Nelda had just turned 64 on March 8 and lived in the northwestern village of Île-à-la-Crosse, 372 kilometres north of Saskatoon. Her daughters say she tested positive for COVID-19 at the end of April and spent May critically ill in hospital. On Monday afternoon, the family said goodbye and she was taken off life support. 

"Our mom was our rock, she was the strongest one and always gave us strength. Now we have to try and be strong without her," said Lana Maurice, 29. "We love our mom so much, she was such a huge part of our lives." 

It seemed to happen so fast. 

As April ended, Nelda didn't seem like her usual happy self. She was sick with a fever, vomiting and chills. A few days later, she tested positive. COVID-19 hit Nelda hard and she was the only one to show symptoms from the family. Krystal said that after Nelda's positive test Krystal, her daughters and her dad had tested positive, too. 

"The night before she went to the hospital she was shaking and I was laying in bed with her," Krystal said. "I called 911, I didn't know that was the last time I would see her because she always comes back, right?" 

The family was told Nelda "wasn't going to make it" during her first week in hospital. However she made some improvements, so they had hope. 

On Sunday, they received another devastating call.

"They called us and told us that we had to make a decision," Krystal said. "I was heartbroken, like I didn't know what to do. It was so sudden that we had to live without a mom." 

Lana said her dad is heartbroken to lose his soulmate so suddenly. They had been married for 29 years. 

"They never left each other's side and never gave up on each other throughout their life together," she said. "He loves her dearly and he will always love her for the rest of his days."

On May 25, Nelda Maurice died in hospital after struggling against COVID-19 for nearly a month. She's remembered as being the rock of the Maurice family. (Submitted by Lana Maurice)

The sisters described their mom as a community-minded woman who worked as a teacher's aid for more than 20 years, led Girl Guides, and organized Terry Fox runs and walks for diabetes. 

Nelda was a loving grandmother of seven. She had survived cancer and lived with diabetes, but COVID seemed to take over her entire body.  

"We had so many plans for the future, and now nothing," Lana said. "It was all taken because of this disease."

They said goodbye to Nelda on Monday afternoon. The death was not mentioned in the Saskatchewan government's COVID-19 update on Monday.  

The sisters said that thinking about what's next feels impossible, but they have to plan for a funeral of some sort. They can't remember the last time they had a funeral for an immediate family member and they're not quite sure how to proceed. 

Grieving will also be different, as pandemic restrictions remain in place. 

"We don't have the community support that we would have before all of this. Everybody wants to send love, but they're doing it from afar," Lana said.

Community members have been donating money for the funeral and to help cover travel expenses. The sisters have a message for people not taking COVID-19 seriously. 

"It's not..." Lana said.

"...a joke," Krystal said, finishing her sister's sentence.