I’ve just joined this community and see how wonderful and supportive you all are, showing such compassion and understanding of grief.
I’ve pasted an account of what happened before my wonderful wife, Louisa, die of Covid in
April 2020. Due to Chronic Lymphatic Leukemia (CLL), her immune system was severely compromised.
I’m not looking for sympathy or empathy for my actions, just any potential at all for a future? I cannot see this possibility due to losing my soulmate and the way I behaved. I was so awful! I am truly guilty.
Apologies that the following is so long, it’s something I wrote as part of 5 months’ counselling which did not change my thinking.
I miss her so much, just cannot come to terms with her loss along with my failure. I took it all for granted and thought she would be with me for years to come. All the negatives blot out the good times.
Love and best wishes to you all
We heard of something called Coronavirus from China and from simply a news item it started to become a serious matter and given cases in the UK, a disease Louisa could not be exposed to. Hence we first realised we could not go abroad on holiday, then not even within the UK and began cancelling arrangements for Louisa’s birthday on and around 4 March. We were meant to be in London for a concert at the O2 on 3 March followed by a nice day with stepdaughter on 4 March. This was all cancelled and we had a very quiet time at home, Louisa was feeling fatigued but we had a pleasant week doing our usual stuff around Shoreham by Sea. Local shopping, walks by the river and on the beach, talking about our hopefully pending move back to Hastings or Bexhill.
By the weekend of her birthday, Louisa was fed up of cancelling everything and she said let’s go into Brighton just for a short trip, go to a couple of shops and then come home. Hence, on Sunday 8 March, we caught the bus into Brighton, went to a sports shops so I could buy some new trainers, Louisa went to Hobbs and bought a new dress and we treated ourselves to a meal out at Cote before catching a bus back to Shoreham.
The rest of that week was quiet other than a trip to the Marsden on 11 March for Louisa’s 3-monthly check on her CLL which was absolutely fine and a visit from close friends on Friday 13 March to have a lovely time together and celebrate Louisa and friend’s birthdays. They were meant to go to the Ivy in the Lanes in Brighton but they decided to cancel due to the increasingly grim news regarding the Coronavirus. Friends came to our house and Louisa prepared a lovely lunch and we had a beautiful time together as we always have done.
The weekend was a very quiet affair. Louisa and I spent most of it indoors at home other than a walk by the river/beach on Saturday/Sunday and visit to the local co-op. We had a delicious lamb chop roast on Sunday evening with a glass of wine or two. It was so ordinary and something we’d done many many times. Louisa did say earlier on that day that she felt very tired and I offered to cook something simple but she said it was OK and she’d do the roast. It was one of our favourite meals.
The next morning, Monday 16 March, Louisa woke feeling unwell and put it down to her sinus problems and felt she should not have had a drink. She wasn’t feeling good but still took me to the doctors for a blood test. After this, we took the decision that we should begin shielding completely, not going out at all to avoid Louisa catching the virus.
Due to feeling worse on Tuesday morning, we called her clinical nurse at the Marsden and she agreed that Louisa should start taking the antibiotics she already had.
On Monday and Tuesday she continued to feel unwell but nothing extreme. From what I recall, I did ensure she relaxed, made her meals and we just stayed home doing our usual things.
On Wednesday she was feeling worse but nothing more significant than she had felt before when unwell. She’d had calls with her daughters, friends and was just waiting for the illness to abate.
Louisa asked me to make her a meal of roasted vegetables to hopefully help her recovery and I made a mixture of various veg we had in the fridge and cupboards. I asked Louisa if she wouldn’t mind if I had a beer and finished off a bottle of red wine from the weekend. Louisa said that was fine but not to overdo it. I agreed and enjoyed cooking with a beer, a glass of wine and a couple more before Louisa went off to bed early due to feeling so tired and unwell, probably around 8:30 pm.
I stayed up, finished the bottle from the weekend and then wanted more so I opened another bottle and had enough to send me to sleep in the chair, waking up at around 3:30 am. I felt rubbish about not getting to bed at a reasonable time and crawled off to bed.
The next morning Louisa was very angry with me as she was fully aware that I had not been in bed until very late. She got up and stated very clearly “You have let me down… you have let me down!”. I argued I had not, but she was of course so right. She really was seriously disappointed in me. I certainly could feel that I’d had a fair bit of red wine.
Louisa was feeling even worse and had a high temperature so we contacted her nurse at the Marsden again. This time she recommended we get to A&E and have Louisa checked out which we did. We caught a taxi to Worthing Hospital and as Louisa had a special card saying she had CLL she was seen almost immediately.
They carried out various blood tests, gave her an intravenous antibacterial drip took chest X-rays and took a swab to test for Covid. They said her chest was clear and thought she had some sort of virus but unlikely to be Covid. They sent us home after about three hours at A&E.
I made Louisa some dinner that evening (can’t remember what it was) and chose to have some white wine. I was fully aware Louisa would not approve but still went ahead and pathetically said I just needed a few drinks to relax (and quite possibly to take the edge off feeling rough after my consumption of red wine the night before). This was showing scant disregard for my wife’s feelings and such a lack of duty of care… especially considering the day she’d had!
On Friday morning Louisa was no better and I felt unwell too. My symptoms were aching limbs and muscles just like one gets when flu is coming on. We spent the day sitting quietly together in our living room both feeling ill, though Louisa much worse than me without doubt.
Louisa prepared a simple meal with salmon and asked if I’d cook it later for dinner as she’d probably not feel up to it. I said of course and so I cooked it around 6 pm (just a matter of putting the steamer on and putting the salmon in the oven to bake). I was surprised to realise that I was feeling better than I’d done all day and unfortunately decided to consume more white wine, again despite knowing what Louisa’s attitude would be to this folly. I simply walked into the living room belligerently with my glass of wine once I’d put the dinner on and Louisa said nothing. I think I said I knew she wouldn’t approve but I was feeling better and fancied a few drinks and wouldn’t overdo it. Another totally pathetic course of action ignoring my poor loyal wife’s disappointment and disapproval. We ate dinner together, me with my wine next to my plate, and then the evening was spent watching TV before Louisa headed off to bed early again. I can’t remember what time I went to bed but it wasn’t very late.
On Saturday Louisa was feeling worse again and so I called the Marsden. As Louisa did have a cough by now and a high temperature their advice was to call 999 for an ambulance so she could be taken back to A&E to be checked out further and to be isolated just in case she had Covid. Louisa understandably didn’t want to go back to A&E but clearly had to do so. We got ready, packed a rucksack with some basic items and called the ambulance which turned up at around 1:30 pm.
A nurse came into the house, asked a few questions and then said OK let’s go. I walked out with Louisa, locked the door and went to walk with her to get into the ambulance. The nurse’s colleague shouted over “No next of kin in the ambulance”. So, we stood just outside the window to our living room, rapidly extracted a few items of mine from the rucksack, had a quick kiss through our masks and Louisa got into the ambulance. I Unlocked the front door and stood on the step until the ambulance had left and was no longer within earshot. I went back indoors fully expecting Louisa to return home later that day.
Louisa called a couple of hours later to say they were carrying out the same test as those done on Thursday. Not long after this I received a call asking for Louisa. It was a doctor who told me Louisa had tested positive for Covid-19. So, she’d caught precisely what we’d been trying to avoid all along…
Louisa called again later to say she’d been told and said wasn’t it all a bit of a shock to which I agreed. They were keeping her in overnight just to monitor her and have a cardiologist check some results from her heart.
I busied myself with the online shop we’d started the day before which was to be delivered the next day. I shopped for two as usual. Louisa and I didn’t speak any more that day but I sent her a text when I went to bed saying I loved her and to fight off this nasty virus and come home where she belonged. She replied saying she loved me and was missing mi and said night night.
Louisa called briefly the next morning, Sunday, and was clearly very poorly. She was unable to speak for long but just wanted me to know the situation. She then called later that day and started to cry saying “I’ll need someone to look after me when I come home”. When I said that it’d be me she said nothing. I said is because you think I’ll drink and she replied yes. So damning of my behaviour! I blurted out that knowing she had Covid was a game-changer and I promised I certainly would not drink and take good care of her. A great pity I didn’t have such a disposition just 48 hours ago regardless of what was causing her to feel unwell! I was so ashamed and sad that my wife felt she had no-one at home to rely on to take good care of her. It was of course my role and for the three nights prior to her going into hospital I put my desire for alcohol before her and made her feel unsafe and uncared for. Unforgivable!
Over the next two weeks Louisa deteriorated, ending up in intensive care but then showed signs of improvement in early April. Our hopes were shattered on 7 April however when the doctor called to say she had taken a serious turn for the worse and Louisa would not recover. I was invited in to see her in ICU. Stepdaughter and I went and were allowed about 45 minutes with Louisa who had a plastic balloon completely concealing her head in order to provide sufficient oxygen to her lungs to maintain correct levels in her body.
When we left the unit we both thought that was the last time we’d see Louisa. We were taken into a family room and told in no uncertain terms that Louisa would not survive. This was devastating to hear directly from the medical staff.
Eventually I received a call from a doctor who told me Louisa had asked for all oxygen equipment to be removed and let nature take its course. He said how sorry he was but he’d had a long discussion with her and this was what she wanted. Louisa called that afternoon and her voice sounded quite strong, probably due to having had so much oxygen up until that point. Stepdaughter and I both spoke to her and again believed it would be our final conversation and said our goodbyes.
Then Louisa called the next day sounding weaker. She said she was to be moved down to a ward. She also made a point of saying to me “Get your integrity back!”. Somewhat shocked I said what do you mean… don’t you think I have integrity; do you mean the drink? She simply said yes.
Stepdaughter and I were allowed to visit Louisa on the ward for an hour on Friday 10 April. This time she was just in bed with no apparatus attached. I held her, told her I loved her very much and thanked her for marrying me. She said the same to me and said “Have a good year”. I said “The last good day of the year” which is a song by a band called Cousteau which we both loved but she said no. Hence I assume she meant the rest of the year.
We left saying yet more final goodbyes. Incredibly emotional and draining.
Louisa was move to St Barnabas House Hospice on 13 April where I spent the final week of her life by her bed, talking to her, passing on messages from friends and sitting quietly listening to her breathing. She died at around 6:15 am on Monday 20 April as I held her hand. I spent three hours with my beautiful darling wife before having to leave her forever. Totally heartbreaking.
As weeks passed, I began to think about the whole period of her illness and the many hours she’d had to lie and think about her life. The feeling of failing my duty as a loving husband became more and more stronger and concluded that at best, she had come to the realisation that she had wasted at least some years of her life with me. The phone calls where she said she was concerned about who would take care of her once she came home and telling me to “Get my integrity back” haunted me and showed she really had felt sadness and disappointment in me at the very least. Such a terrible legacy for me to leave to such a special, caring, loyal and loving wife. It’s possible that she even felt she had wasted the entire 25 years of our time together despite saying she loved me and thanking me for marrying her. Louisa was a very kind soul and I thought she may have said this not to be unkind or vindictive in the face of her adversity.
I am truly remorseful and ashamed for my behaviour in the days leading up to the 21st of March when she left our home for good and we exchanged that brief kiss outside our living room window at around 1:45 pm. The last time of any sort of normality. I did not make my wonderful wife feel safe, cared for and exude trustworthiness to her.
After all those years shared together, good and bad times, the end result in her time of need is as she clearly stated I LET HER DOWN!!! Appalling way to end a marriage upon the death of one’s wife!!!