SIMPSONVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) – A beloved Hillcrest High School employee passed away recently after a fight with COVID-19. Her family is now sharing her story, in the hopes it will help someone else.
Holly Warren was the school’s attendance clerk for many years. Her daughter, Lindsey McGee, says Warren never met a stranger and loved family more than anything. She also had fight in her, battling the virus until the end. But that fight began over the holiday season.
“We had a small family gathering December 29th at my house to celebrate my daughter’s 8th birthday, and when I say ‘small family gathering’, I mean my husband, myself, our three children, and my parents,” said McGee.
But little did she know that her family’s whole world was going to change. The entire household came down with the virus, which spread to McGee’s parents: Holly and Reggie.
“I mean, it’s one of those things that you hear about from other people, and not that you think you’re invincible, not that you think that it can’t affect you, but you never think it is,” McGee admitted.
Everyone in the family recovered – except 65-year-old Holly. She sadly got worse day by day. McGee says initially, she just thought her mother needed an extra set of eyes on her and oxygen, along with other medication. But Holly was admitted to Hillcrest Hospital within a week of testing positive for the virus, and was later transferred to Greenville Memorial Hospital. There, she was placed on a ventilator. Meanwhile, Holly’s husband Reggie said he kept his beard growing for a cause.
“This was my ‘I’m not shaving ’til Holly comes home,” he said. “I just didn’t know she was going all the way home.”
On Tuesday, Feb. 2nd, Holly passed away. She spent 15 days on a ventilator, and her family says sent a clear sign she was ready to move on.
McGee says she felt responsible for her mother’s death, but noted her mother assured her an adult choice was made on Holly’s end too.
“I shared with my mom that I felt responsible for her being in that position, that I thought we were doing the safe thing by just remaining with our group of seven, but unfortunately, she contracted this deadly virus from us,” she said. “My mom thankfully said that she was an adult and she made her own choice and that I don’t ever need to carry that with me but I’m still trying to process that, you know it’s hard.”
Processing the loss, and the weight of feeling responsible, is the heaviest part of this grieving process for the family. They say they made the mistake thinking the virus couldn’t affect them, and are now raising the alarm with a message: things can change quickly.
“I had as many or more underlying conditions than Holly did. To me it was a 10-day or two-week inconvenience, for her it was deadly,” said Reggie.
Reggie paraphrases Jimmy Buffet’s song “He Went To Paris” to describe his marriage with Holly: “Some of it’s been tragic, most of it’s been magic. But it’s been a good life.”
Still, it’s a life McGee didn’t want to end so soon. Not like this.
“I don’t want my mom’s story to end like this. I don’t want this to be the final chapter in her book. This was not supposed to happen,” she lamented. Then, through tears: “I just wished that I cherished her more because I truly miss her, and you know I’m grateful that I had her for 38 years, but you know I can’t help but wish for 38 more.”
Holly’s family is holding a visitation at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 7 at First Baptist Church in Simpsonville. There will be plenty of room for social distancing, and masks mandatory. Her funeral will follow at 3 p.m.
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