- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 23, 2015

DALLAS (AP) - A year ago, Louise Troh had a job she liked, a cramped apartment filled with family and the anticipation of new and better times with the love of her life on his way to Dallas from Africa. A year after Ebola invaded her home, that’s all gone.

Thomas Eric Duncan got to Dallas from Liberia on Sept. 20. After living with Troh and her family in that tiny apartment for eight days, he was hospitalized and diagnosed with the deadly blood disease that was ravaging his homeland. On Oct. 8, he was dead.

In an interview with The Dallas Morning News (https://bit.ly/1Wijw6X ), Troh ping-pongs between grief and gratitude, memories of her hopes and the crushing reality of her present. A pack of toddlers she cares for during the day - grandchildren and a niece - give her “inspiration and love.”

This week, as the anniversary of Ebola in Dallas approached, every time she saw a photo of Duncan on TV drove a new spike in her heart.

“They can talk about Ebola, but just stop putting his picture on the screen” she said from the Dallas townhouse where she and some of her family have been living since November.

She remains angry that some blamed Duncan for bringing Ebola to America. Even though people in his home village said he did not know he had been exposed. And even thought she has said he told her before he died that he would never have risked infecting her.

“Why would they blame an innocent man?” she said.

She’s still bitter that officials cleared out and destroyed almost all of her possessions - in spite of what scientists know about the virus - days after Duncan was hospitalized. Even under ideal circumstances, the virus dies quickly.

“My son asked me not to sue about anything,” Troh said.

Troh and her daughter, both certified nurse aides, had already bleached and cleaned up anything Duncan had touched in that apartment. Their work likely kept the virus from spreading further.

On the one hand, she says that she and her family have been forgotten so quickly. The aid that people gave them those first months is long gone. And she is embarrassed to ask for more.

But on the other hand, she says she can’t bear going back to work because people all know her as the “Ebola woman.” It’s not that others are cruel, she said, it’s that she can’t bear the reminders every time someone recognizes her.

A book she co-wrote with former Dallas Morning News staffer Christine Wicker, “My Spirit Took You In: The Romance that Sparked an Epidemic of Fear,” has had only modest sales. But Troh says it was worth the effort.

“God just asked me to write the book,” she said. “People can read it and read the truth. Long after I am gone.”

Troh puts her faith in God. The pastor and members of Wilshire Baptist Church jumped to help her and her family and she is grateful. And she is convinced that Duncan’s death served a higher and noble purpose - forcing people to pay heed to a disease that had been too-ignored in Africa.

“He died for Ebola to get attention. He was a sacrifice for the whole wide world,” she said. “God proved himself and made us live.”

___

Information from: The Dallas Morning News, https://www.dallasnews.com

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