A Regina family is trying to preserve the dreams a young father had for his sons as they deal with the grief of his sudden death.
Corey Charles died in his sleep from COVID-19 complications on April 7, just eight days after he tested positive for the coronavirus. He was 32 years old and left behind two sons: Ashton, 14, and Kingston, three.
"It was incredibly quick," said Paula Brann, who shared custody of Ashton with Charles.
The 32-year-old father died at home with his 14-year-old son by his side. Charles was extremely fatigued, sleeping most days, but he never made it to the hospital.
The death came so suddenly that when Ashton texted his mom that his dad had passed, she thought he was joking.
She immediately called her son, who was in a state of delirium.
"I thought they were getting annoyed by how much I was checking in on them, making sure they were OK, that they needed food supplies. What can I do? So I thought that was the bottom line, that they were so annoyed. 'Let's play a joke.' And it wasn't," she said.
The family has been in agony ever since.
"[Ashton] lost his other half and he is kind of a direct clone of his dad. He looks like and he talks like him. He sounds like him. He laughs like him. So it's one blessing that we've always got that part of his dad. But we just don't have his dad," Brann said.
The grieving process has been difficult for the children. Brann said Ashton has diverted to video games and that she's looking into counselling.
While she's scared about students returning to school on Monday, her son is looking forward to some normalcy.
"He just wants to see his friends right now. He doesn't want to be alone," Brann said.
GoFundMe campaign set up for Charles's sons
Charles's death has left a huge void in the family. Brann said he was an enthusiastic father who cared deeply about his children's wellbeing, often taking his kids to the park or for bike ride adventures throughout the city.
A few months prior to his death, Charles and Brann started working with Ashton to improve his grades by setting up an education fund as an incentive.
Brann said this was very important to the young father, who had struggled with what he wanted to do in life.
"Once he decided on trades, he struggled to be able to pay for it," Brann said.
She said Charles didn't want the same for his sons and that he wanted his children to feel financially secure so they could discover who they wanted to be.
With Charles gone, the godparents set up a GoFundMe campaign to preserve Charles's dream for his sons. All the money raised will go toward a trust for the sons' education — whether it's university or the trades.
Brann said this will help the kids focus on their healing.
"They won't have to worry about that contribution their dad can't give anymore."