‘I’m beyond overjoyed’: Henrico woman who beat COVID-19 receives ‘drive-by’ homecoming celebration

Local News

HENRICO, Va. (WRIC) — Friends and family teamed up to welcome home a woman who recovered from COVID-19. Melva Hawkins received a belated ‘homecoming-birthday celebration‘ combination to remember.

The Henrico woman was in the ICU for weeks after testing positive for COVID-19 — and was even on a ventilator for 13 days. Fighting for her life, she never gave up.

“Going through it was the worst thing I’ve been through in my whole life,” Hawkins said. “I would’ve never thought that I would have to be on a ventilator, or I couldn’t stand on my own, or I couldn’t feed myself. Basic things I’ve done all my life, I had to relearn how to do. It took a lot out of me and I’m fighting to get back. I will be better and stronger than I have ever been. I’m going to make it and I’ve made it a long way. I was on a ventilator for 13 days. I had no clue what I was on — what was happening. My family had to make decisions for me, but I survived it. I made it through. I didn’t do it on my own. I did it because of God.”

Hawkins missed celebrating her birthday while recovering in the ICU — so her loved ones worked together to do a ‘drive-by’ parade for her. Friends and family drove by her Eastern Henrico home in their cars, sticking gifts and cards in her mailbox while she watched on from her porch in awe.

“It just made my whole year to see all the love that has been shown. I’m overwhelmed right now and I’m appreciative. I’m so excited to see everybody because I’ve gone 30 days without seeing family, without seeing friends, and I can’t just even be around people,” Hawkins said.

Hawkins watching on behind her relative, Crystal Hawkins-Smith

Hawkins — living in reflection of a disease that took her father a day before she was admitted to the ICU.

“I lost my father, but God gave me my life and I appreciate him for it,” Hawkins said.

She wants everyone to highlight the importance of those on the front-lines during the coronavirus pandemic.

“The physical therapist, the nurses, the doctors — they are doing the best they can every day. They are trying so hard to save everybody,” Hawkins said. “I had some great doctors, I had some great nurses, and we need to make sure we take care of those people that are on the front line because they’re working hard for us. They are working hard.”

Even a mask couldn’t hide the smile from her face as she thanked her family and friends with phone calls from a chair on her porch.

“This was amazing, simply amazing. I’m blessed to see my family, to see my friends.”

Melva Hawkins

8News Photojournalist Jacob Sexton also contributed to this article.

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