Maria Suarez lost the love of her life nearly two years ago to COVID. She wears a capsule of his ashes around her neck.

Her husband’s name is one of almost two hundred listed on a mosaic wall in Mission Manor Park, unveiled Sunday evening. It’s a memorial dedicated to lives lost to the pandemic.

“It was so sudden,” Suarez said. “We were safe, we masked up, we sanitized everything.”

But after they both contracted COVID, she was the only one who made it out of the hospital. Her husband died nearly four weeks after he was admitted.

Suarez never got to see him again. COVID restrictions kept them apart.

We didnt get that closure,” she said through tears. “We didnt get to be there with them and tell them, ‘Hey, its going to be okay. Were going to be alright.’

That’s what makes the new park memorial special it’s a way for family and friends to say goodbye to lost loved ones.

The project was funded by the American Rescue Plan Act and donated to the city. Tucson Parks and Recreation Department will handle the upkeep of the wall moving forward.

Alex! Jimenez is one of the lead artists of the memorial, along with Paloma Jacqueline. She said she lost her mom to breast cancer in 2016.

It made me look at any act of kindness in a different way,” Jimenez said. “No one knew that I had been crying in my car right before Frys, or the song on the radio at the store was her song.

Jimenez felt for those who had to grieve during a pandemic. Her goal with the memorial was to provide space for people to talk about their losses and have a physical place to go when they need it.

I just couldnt imagine having to go through losing her while also losing a job, while also having a family, while also not being able to see people and congregate, she said of her mom.

Suarez said this mosaic wall is a way to keep the victim’s names alive.

“They werent just a number. Their lives mattered and we didnt get to say goodbye.