When Kelli McCaw stepped into an ambulance, her husband Stephen never imagined that COVID-19 would end her life.
But the 48-year-old from Galgorm in County Antrim died last week, a month after she had been admitted to hospital.
Stephen recalled: “Kelli went out to the ambulance, probably around 11pm. Her words going out the door were ‘I love you’.”
Unable to visit his mum in hospital, Kelli’s son Dean, 24, recorded songs and posted them online. Nursing staff played them to her.
“She was in ICU, we couldn’t have phone calls with her because she was sedated but we were assured she could hear us,” he said.
“I just wanted Mum to hear my voice,” he added.
Kelli had rheumatoid arthritis but no other underlying heath conditions.
Doctors told her family that COVID-19 had “ravaged her body”.
Asked what he would say to those who dismiss the virus as a hoax, Dean replied: “You’re tempted to say you wish they could experience it for a day.
“But I wouldn’t wish that on any of them because it’s just horrid.”
Together for three decades, Stephen and Kelli were childhood sweethearts and had been married for 26 years.
Fighting back tears, Stephen described her as “an amazing wife, an amazing mother and a very loyal friend”.
The family continued to hope she would recover and could not believe how quickly her health deteriorated in the end.
“She went from just having the standard nose oxygen to the full face mask in 24 hours and 48 hours after that, she was being sent to intensive care,” Stephen explained.
In the final moments of her life, Kelli’s family were brought to the room next door and granted one last video call to say goodbye.
Dean said: “We prayed with her, told her we love her, talked about memories and then I read Psalm 46 to Mum.
“Just as I finished the passage, the doctor said Mum’s heart had stopped so the last thing she heard would have been ‘be still and know that I am God’.”
Still posting songs online, now in his Mum’s memory, Dean says he accepts that she has “gone home – just not home to us”.
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