No News Is Good News

“No news is good news.”
   
These are the words my husband spoke to comfort me through the years, whether it was to calm my worries about one of our kids missing curfew, the health of a family member or whether the rising creek would flood our property. He took things in stride and kept a level head.
   
A year ago, the memory of these words changed.
   
They were the last words my husband spoke to me from his hospital bed as he lay dying from COVID. His last words, as he tried to comfort me when I asked if he had heard if there had been any change in his condition.
   
“No news is good news.”
   
For four days and four nights I sat by his bed in the hospital as he drifted in and out of consciousness through medication given him every four hours to keep him breathing.
   
He died on Christmas Day 2020.
   
I met my husband when I was 14. We were high school sweethearts and were married for 60 years.
   
But a choice, made by one, forever changed the lives of many. Whereas others will look at Christmas as a time to celebrate, I look on it as a time to mourn.
   
My husband and I were both infected with COVID in mid-December 2020, before the vaccine was available. A friend who had been exposed to COVID because she hadn’t worn a mask brought the virus to our home.
   
I was lucky – I had only a mild case. My husband was not so fortunate.
   
He seemed OK at first but began falling out of bed at night. Soon it got to where he couldn’t walk, and he told me he thought he had COVID. We took him to the hospital and he was admitted as a COVID patient.
   
I called the nurse the following morning and was told I couldn’t come to see my husband because I was in a COVID house. That was when I called my husband’s room, the same morning that he said his final words. Although I was granted permission to be with him later that day, he was never able to speak to me again.
   
One year later it isn’t any easier. It’s worse. I miss him terribly.
   
People have said he had an underlying condition and that’s what caused him to die. I say he lived with that condition for 10 years. That isn’t what killed him. It was COVID. Had it not been for COVID he would be alive today, living with his “underlying condition.”
   
He didn’t want to die. If the vaccine had been available, he would have taken it.
   
At first, I was angry. My husband’s death could have been so easily prevented had someone just taken simple safety precautions.
   
Then I thought, “Maybe people don’t know someone who got seriously ill –  or worse – from COVID. Maybe they think COVID only infects older people, people with underlying conditions. Maybe they believe young people can’t get it or COVID only occurs in heavily populated areas and in other States. Maybe they don’t understand they can unknowingly infect others. Maybe they just don’t want to know.”
   
Sometimes “no news” isn’t necessarily “good news.”
   
I recently spoke to a young man and said, “I want to ask you something. Are you vaccinated?” He said “no” and asked why I wanted to know. I explained that my husband died from COVID on Christmas Day. He didn’t have a choice about getting the vaccine.
   
On another occasion I asked a business person the same question and he also answered “no.” Why? He didn’t believe in it. I asked him how he would feel if he brought COVID home to his wife and to children. His response? “I just hope I don’t.”
   
When I told a woman wearing a mask incorrectly, below her nose, that it would not protect her, and asked if she was vaccinated, she became defensive and walked away. My story about my husband fell on deaf ears.
   
I speak to people about protecting against COVID so they understand that someone’s choice to not follow recommended COVID safety precautions cost my husband his life. In my frequent visits to my husband’s grave, I share my stories and I believe he hears me. I hope his story will save others.
   
People need to think beyond themselves and realize that it isn’t just about them. Not getting the vaccine, not getting the booster, not wearing a mask, wearing a mask incorrectly, not social distancing or testing if you have any cold, flu, scratchy or sore throat symptoms risk the lives of your family, your friends and your community.

As told by a local woman who wishes to remain anonymous to respect her family’s privacy to Chris Smith, who resides in Muncy and was a prevention education/highway safety specialist for over thirty-five years. She is a member of Let’s end COVID!
Published: 1/8/22

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