By Laura Haefeli

MODESTO (CBS13) — Kris Houser of Modesto will spend another holiday weekend without his wife who died from COVID-19 in the fall of 2020.

Even as the country returns to a more normal way of life, for Kris Houser, the grief still lingers.

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After 21 Christmases together, over-the-top decorations are a cherished memory for Kris and his son, Jude.

“I don’t decorate the house like she used to,” Kris said.

We first interviewed Kris shortly after his wife, Brandy, died. She died on November 13, 2020. The day after, 7,964 new COVID cases were reported. On March 22, 2022, the day we spoke to Kris for this story, the number of new cases had dropped to 1,294.

“The variants are less and there are less strains out there and we’re getting back to normal,” he said.

But as the world returns to normal, regulations relax and faces can be seen once again, for some, life won’t ever be as it was.

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“It will never be the same and Jude’s life will never be the same,” Kris said.

So, what happens next for the Houser family?

“My first priority was to get Jude into group therapy to make sure he knows he’s not alone, but too it actually worked out for me I go to a place called Jessica’s House in Turlock,” Kris said.

Jessica’s House offers grief counseling for people who’ve lost loved ones to COVID-19.

“It’s nice to go somewhere where you’re not alone,” Kris said.

Moving forward, Kris and Jude are ready to get back to their new normal—for themselves and for Brandy.

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“I want to go back into the world and make sure Jude and myself have a normal life again as much as we can,” Kris said. “Travel, do things I want to, get out there, it’s what Brandy would want us to do.”