(FOX47) -- While we've heard a lot from health and government officials about the continued surge of COVID-19, we don't often hear from impacted families.
You might remember Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan lost her brother to the disease, and her family is dealing with it this holiday season.
KTTC had an exclusive interview with Flanagan who spoke about what she and her family are now going through.
"He was deep down a teddy bear," Flanagan said. "We didn't grow up together, but we got to reconnect and know each other about a decade ago."
But, things quickly changed for her family when Golden found out he had stage 4 cancer throughout his body. That was before the COVID-19 diagnosis.
"We were making big plans and then he got COVID," Flanagan said. "We were calling and texting and then he couldn't talk or text anymore, So, we were getting updates from her (Golden's wife). They put him on a ventilator and then shortly thereafter he passed away. So, it happened really quickly."
The proud Native American, Marine, brother, husband and so much more, became the 2nd person to die from COVID-19 in Tennessee, but to Flanagan he's more than a statistic.
"I want people to know that he was kind and gentle and had a wonderful laugh that could fill a room," Flanagan said. "That's what's so unfair about COVID, is that it is taking valuable time away from the people that we love and care about."
So she's asking all Minnesotans to follow guidance from health officials. That's so no one else has to go through what her family went through.
"I want you to have those extra months and years with your family member and I don't want you to have an empty seat at the table this year," Flanagan said.
Sacrifices, traditions ruined, but with good reason.
"It's spend Thanksgiving at home so you don't have to spend Christmas in the ICU," Flanagan said. "We collectively as Minnesotans have the opportunity to stop those numbers from growing."