By Shawnte Passmore

LODI (CBS13) – As COVID-19 cases steadily rise again, the pandemic is reaching another sobering turning point as the U.S. faces its one-millionth death from the virus.

But those numbers represent loved ones to people.

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Karol Kellar still listens to a voicemail from her late husband, Jeff Kellar.

“This is your husband, and you got my number,” he said in the voicemail.

She smiled.

“I’ve found seven voicemails that I saved on my phone, and the boys and I listen to them and they’re really funny,” Karol Kellar said.

Jeff Kellar devoted his life to his wife and family.

The Kellars’ love story began at Lodi High School as classmates. It’s also where Karol Kellar works. In between classes, she finds herself walking down memory lane.

“I miss the motorcycle, the sound of the motorcycle coming home in the evening,” she said.

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But on Sept. 26, 2021, her husband died after contracting COVID-19.

Karol Kellar said the entire family contracted it, but only she’s vaccinated.

While family members recovered, it became clear the father and husband needed immediate medical treatment, especially since he had underlying conditions.

He spent his final days in the hospital alone.

Following Jeff’s passing, Karol has found a new purpose through her grief.

“I also knew I was the only parent my kids have left, and I was going to do whatever it takes to get healthy,” she said.

So she lost 90 pounds through a weight loss program with a health coach. More than seven months into the program, she is now a health coach for others.

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The person she misses the most is also the same person giving her the strength to move forward.

Shawnte Passmore