At the Washington Post, writer John Woodrow Cox and photojournalist Salwan Georges share the story of the three Ismael siblings — Nash, 20; Nadeen, 18; and Nanssy, 13 — as they struggle with the loss of their mother, Nada Naisan, and their father, Nameer Ayram, who died 20 days apart from COVID-19.

For days, he and his sisters had lived off delivery orders through their mom’s DoorDash account, though they had no idea where the money came from to pay for it. None of them had bank accounts or credit cards, and Nash didn’t want to spend the $300 in cash he’d found in a drawer behind his parents’ bed.

Zeana opened a tab at Sahara to keep them fed, but she also worried about their bills. Nash retrieved his mother’s phone from the hospital after her intubation, and Zeana told him to search it for a banking app. When he discovered that the mortgage appeared to be past due, he tried to pay it. A moment later, he found his parents’ checking account, drained of all but $900. The mortgage payment bounced.

Nash tried to learn as much as he could as fast as he could, but he often felt overwhelmed, especially on the morning nine days after his dad’s death when he discovered a $188,629 hospital bill that he was terrified they might have to pay.

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Cheri has been an editor at Longreads since 2014. She's currently based in the San Francisco Bay Area.