WESTLAKE, Ohio — At just 18-years old, Sara Golembiewski has her whole life ahead of her. But now, the future seems a bit more intimidating.
“I am a little scared to face the world without the help of my parents,” she said.
But instead of thinking about the future, the Westlake teenager can’t stop thinking about moments and memories with her loved ones that she can’t get back.
“It was a Sweetheart Ball for Girl Scouts. It was my first one and my dad wasn’t able to make it so my mom took me, and while all the daughters were dancing with their dad, I was dancing with my mom,” she said as she held up a picture of the event.
Golembiewski and her 15-year old brother are dealing with the unimaginable: the deaths of their mother, father, and aunt.
Shortly after Thanksgiving her aunt, 59-year old Debra Machka, her father, 46-year old Brian Golembiewski, and her mother, 57-year old Gail Golembiewski all got sick with COVID-19.
“I was the only vaccinated one in my family,” she said. “I told them to go to the hospital and they didn’t listen to me. I knew something bad was going to happen.”
Sara Golembiewski said they all had underlying conditions. Her mother suffered from lupus, hypothyroidism, and diabetes. Her father was obese and suffered from lupus, heart problems, and diabetes. Her aunt also had diabetes and lupus.
Golembiewski said she wasn’t sure why they didn’t want to go to the hospital, she said it could’ve been fear.
On Dec. 7, Golembiewski went to check on her aunt because she wasn’t answering her phone. She found her dead.
“My dad was on the floor literally bawling because he lost his sister,” she said.
Golembiewski said she was reeling from the shock of it all when her mom woke her up later that evening.
“She’s like ‘Sara come down here now,’ I’m like ‘Why?’ and she’s like ‘Your father passed away.’”
As Golembiewski, her mother, and brother tried to make sense of it all, her mom’s condition worsened.
On Dec.10, just three days after the death of her father and aunt, her mom passed away.
“My brother is screaming and freaking out he’s like ‘What are we going to do? Who are we going to go with? I’m like ‘I don’t know.’”
In the days since her brother is with family in Streetsboro.
Jennifer Bohannon, Golembiewski’s boyfriend’s mom, took her in so she can finish her senior year at Westlake High School.
“I thought it was kind of important not to be pulled away, so far away, from all of her friends and the support,” said Bohannon. “ I’ve been really trying to be there for Sara and supporting her.”
Bohannon started a GoFundMe page for the Golembiewski siblings.
She said the money will go into a trust set up by a lawyer and divided evenly between Golembiewski and her brother.
And while, both, Golembiewski and her brother face their first Christmas without their parents and aunt, she hopes her story will serve as a reminder to take precautions to stop the spread.
“Get vaccinated. If my parents got it, it would’ve saved their lives. I think it would’ve,” she said.
Another important lesson from the teenager: love while you can.
“There are times I wish I could go back and watch a video again like mom was like ‘Hey come look at this,’ or my dad wanted to watch a movie with me and I was like ‘No, I’m good. I don’t really want to.’ I wish I could get those moments back, so spend every moment you can because once they’re gone they’re gone and there’s nothing you can really do to get them back.”
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