Manase family mourns relative lost to coronavirus
The Taito Muese family in Manase is still trying to come to terms with the loss of a beloved family member who passed away after being struck by the coronavirus while living in Utah in the United States of America
Taito Tauasa Papataia's death has left his mother and family in Savai'i broken-hearted.
He is survived by his mother, Elisapeta Rasela Taito Muese Tanumafili (all of whom reside in Samoa), his wife and seven children (who live in Utah), and eleven brothers and sisters.
Taito Vaea Tanumafili, the deceased's younger brother, told the Samoa Observer that his older brother, who he said was like a father to him, had died because of the coronavirus. He was the second child out of his parent's twelve children.
His devastated brother said that a dark cloud still looms large over his family and they still cannot accept his loss.
"It was unexpected," Taito told the Samoa Observer.
"When we first found out that he got coronavirus, all we did was pray. It was a tough time for our family and we still find it hard to believe.
"One of the toughest things for us, who are here in Samoa, was finding a way to tell our mother, who is turning 80 next year. It was hard.
"We couldn't do much about and as much as we wanted to be there for him during his last moments, there was really nothing that could be done."
Taito said the news that their beloved brother had left the earth had rocked the family to its core.
"We had to find the courage to break the news to our mother," he said. "It was not easy and we kept praying to God to help us through it all. We asked him to guide us and give us the right time so we can tell our mother about the loss of our brother.
"She was not okay when she first found out, which was heart-breaking. We had to be strong for her. It took her a while, but we are grateful to God that slowly she is recovering from what happened.
"Even my other siblings who are in New Zealand and Australia, we all wanted to be there on his final day. But because of travel restrictions, there's really nothing that we could do.
"Even his wife and kids were not allowed to go near him during his final day, which was hard to see."
Taito remembered his older brother as a loving, kind and passionate person, who was like a second father to all members of the family - due not just to his seniority in the family but also his caring sensibilities.
"He is the second child," Taito said.
"He treated all of us who are younger than him as his children. He was there from the beginning and was always there for our family.
"I remember back then, he used to carry and take us around wherever he goes, pushed us to do our best and had done so much for our family.
"He was a family man, a hard worker and he helped build the foundation of this family."
The family are the owners of the Tanu Beach Fales in Manase.
According to Taito, his older brother was a great contributor to the success of the family businesses.
"He lived with his wife and kids in American Samoa, before moving to the [United States of America] to find a better future for his children,” he said.
"Every year, he would come for a visit in Savai'i. He was always the first to arrive and the last one to go back home. His heart was always with our family."
While Taito said while his Samoan family are still coping with the loss of their brother, they are taking solace in the knowledge that he was now free from suffering.
"We were looking forward to having him back home for our mother's 80th birthday next year," said Taito.
"However, he left to be with our maker. As Christianity, we must always trust the Lord and accept whatever happens.
"Yes, it has been hard for our family; we still do not believe that he is gone, that we won't see him anymore.
"But we know he is in a better place now. We miss him so much, but in our hearts is where he remains."