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Dennis DeCarlo, 61: 'No One Is Alone' from 'Into the Woods'

Via Robert Texel

In March 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. Two years later, nearly a million people have died in the United States from the disease. To put a face on this number and pay respect to the departed, NPR asked our audience to share songs that reminded them of a loved one lost to COVID-19. What follows are individual stories of those who have passed, those mourning them and the songs that continue to unite them.

Dennis was the set designer for the spring musical at our high school, and I was the director. He was a beloved woodshop teacher, colleague and friend to many of us in the district. Dennis died less than two months into lockdown and the whole Pompton Lakes community in New Jersey was devastated. A year later, we staged a socially distanced, masked production of Into the Woods for the spring musical and dedicated it to him.

"No One Is Alone" is the penultimate song of the show, where the surviving characters reflect on how they have to carry on despite losing friends and family suddenly and tragically. I'm sure it meant something different for each member of the audience, but for the kids, my colleagues, and me, it was a song about Dennis, and how we needed to carry on in his absence. —Bobby Texel, co-worker and friend

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Corrected: May 13, 2022 at 12:00 AM EDT
An earlier version of this story said more than 1 million Americans have died from COVID.