Last year, in the height of the pandemic's spring grip on New York City, Sophie Gerber was isolated on her 99th birthday after battling COVID-19. Fast forward 365 days, the survivor was able to mark a century milestone with a wish come true.
Gerber turns 100 years old on Sunday and the celebrations look a bit brighter than they did last year, but not for a lack of trying.
Her son, Joe, and dozens of others gathered outside her home last year, waving signs and calling out to Gerber. Due to the necessary safety protocols of the time, Gerber had to wave down to her friends and family from behind her window.
"I wasn't eating and was kept in bed," Gerber recalls her bout with the virus, but doesn't linger there long.
This year, now fully vaccinated, she's ready for a special gift: a hug from her son.
"How do you describe total joy and rapture, holding somebody that you've nurtured since infancy -- and tell him how much I missed him and how I want to stay close to him for as long as I possibly can," Gerber told NBC New York, unaware of the surprise to come.
On Friday, Joe made a visit to see his mother ahead of her special day. The two shared a hug - the first in over a year - some jokes, a couple of tears, and even a dance.
It's a reunion the survivor doesn't take for granted. The New Yorker knows the past year has been one of indescribable pain for the city she loves, but still she has her eyes set on a hopeful future.
"You're going to survive. You must tell yourself that you're going to get through this," Gerber said.