Editor’s note: This story is part of a series about Oklahomans who have died in the coronavirus pandemic. Read the stories of other Oklahomans here. Have you lost a loved one to COVID-19? Help us tell their story. 

Shineesta Emily Bushyhead Adams, 60, of Newkirk was a citizen of the Cheyanne and Arapaho Tribes, a breast cancer survivor, a wife and mother of three and grandmother of six. For those who knew her, she was just “Shine.”

“My mom was full of life,” said Tomi Bailey, Shine’s daughter. “She never met a stranger and always had a smile on her face. She loved being around her family. Her grandkids were her everything.”

Shine was an excellent cook and was known for her frybread, Indian tacos and meat pies. She also was the family’s central organizer and decorator for holiday get-togethers.

“That was Shine’s biggest thing — she loved her family,” said her cousin Anita Greenwalt.

Shine grew up in Chilocco but graduated high school in Arkansas City, Kansas in 1979. She married Alton Charles Adams in 1996, and had three children, Tomi, A.J. Adams and Dakota Bailey. 

Shine contracted COVID-19 in mid-March 2020, not long after Oklahoma’s first diagnosed case of the virus. She was still receiving chemo-therapy at the time for breast cancer. 

She initially thought her symptoms were allergies, but soon tested positive for COVID-19 and was eventually put into a medically induced coma.

She died at Integris Baptist Medical Center in Oklahoma City on April 20.

Because Shine’s symptoms came on so quickly and because it was so early during the pandemic, her family did not get to visit her in the hospital. They never got to say goodbye.

“I really wish that the doctors knew back then what we know now,” Bailey said. “I feel like I was robbed. I didn’t get to say goodbye or mourn over her body.”

It wasn’t until this year that the family was able to hold a memorial service for her, Bailey said.

Her absence has left a hole that can’t be filled, Bailey said.

“She was exactly what her name was — a ray of sunlight,” Bailey said. “She lit up a room when she came in. She was what held our family together. Now it just feels empty without her here. I didn’t realize how much she put off in the family until she was gone. There’s no filling that.”