"Breathe, Dad. We need to hear you breathe." Daughter hears his dad die over the phone
A daughter tells the story of hearing the last breath of her father on the phone before dying from COVID-19.
Abby Adair Reinhardshares how she and her siblings stayed on the phone for 36 hours as they heard their dad fought and later on died from COVID-19 alone.
The COVID-19 pandemic has taken thousands of lives across the globe. And it is not just damaging people’s lungs and breathing. But as well as their hearts and mind as the virus kept them away from their loved ones. Making their fight against the disease harder as they do it all by themselves. Lucky those who were able to survive. But sad for those who spent the last minutes of their lives alone. Without even having the energy to bid or say goodbye.
But this whole COVID-19 fight is not just for the patients who tested positive for the disease. The fight is also for their families and friends wishing and praying that they will make it. That sooner they will get over it and they will recover. Apparently, this is not what happening to some of the COVID-19 cases especially to those who are considered vulnerable to the disease. Leaving a big mark of sadness and grief to their longing families. Like this story of a daughter who had stayed on the phone for 36 hours, hearing and praying that his father will survive COVID-19. But he doesn’t and he died in a hospital in New York, alone.
Abby Adair ReinhardCOVID-19 story
Though journal-style post on Facebook, 41-year-old Abby Adair Reinhardshares her 76-year-old father, Don Adair’s fight against COVID-19. She started writing about his father’s journey against the disease on April 5, the day after she learned that her father is COVID-19 positive.
When she learned that her father was COVID-19 positive
According to her post, Abby shared that her father was initially rushed to the hospital for treatment after suffering a fall. But after a few days, while receiving treatment her dad experienced fever and cough. And later on, tested positive for coronavirus.
“The terror I’ve felt today is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced, and I can only imagine how hard it has been for you, Dad. I’m so sorry you are going through this nightmare. You went to the hospital after falling, and you were supposed to be discharged soon. But COVID spread, unsuspected, down the hall, before you had a chance.”
Abby wrote as she reminisces the moment when she found out that her father was positive for the disease. She admitted that at first, she felt angry and frustrated when she heard the news. As she thought that the hospital workers and her father’s nurse haven’t done their job well in making sure that her father was safe and protected from the disease. But later on, she realized something, that at this time everyone is a victim and there is no one to blame. Yet she is still afraid and was more worried when she learned from his father’s nurse that he was put into a medically-induced coma so he could be placed on a ventilator. But Abby refused after talking to her dad’s doctor, saying that putting him on a ventilator would only prolong his pain. Because the infection has already destroyed his lungs and there’s a little chance that he can recover.
Father dying alone from COVID-19
Fear and sadness enveloped Abby. As she realized that she wouldn’t be able to be by her father’s side when he died. She couldn’t do anything but cry.
“What was done was done. The weight of this reality hit hard, the dam broke, and I sobbed, realizing I couldn’t go to be by your side. No visitors. COVID wing. Oh my God. I felt a huge rush of fear and then anguish. But I couldn’t stay stuck there. I needed to talk to you, Dad, as soon as possible”, Abby wrote.
Then her father’s nurse came up with an idea. She decided to call Abby and place the phone in his father’s ear so he could hear her speak. So, she could say whatever she wanted to say to her father during his final hours of life.
At first, she kept on saying how much he loves him. How much she misses him and how much she enjoyed all those precious times being with him. After minutes of talking to her father, Abby decided to call his siblings. And through a conference call, they stayed on the phone for hours. Singing, telling stories and reminiscing the times they had with their father. While trying to keep calm and strong for him. While hearing his last breath that seems to get more and more difficult as time goes by.
Talking and reminiscing memories with her father over the phone
“It feels so good to laugh and cry. To be connected to the phone with you and my brother and sisters. To bring the images of us from earlier years back to life. It also feels good to hear you breathe. That rhythmic, white noise is the background music to our call”.
Abby also shared that there are moments that he breathes silently which gives them the fear they never thought of feeling.
“When you don’t breathe, I hold my own breath, afraid it’s the end. And we all chime in, “Breath, Dad — we need to hear you breathe.” Then we finally hear you inhale. Then I let out a sigh of relief, grateful to know you’re still with us. I have never loved and appreciated breath the way I love and appreciate breath right now.”
Hours passed then came the next day, they are still on the phone and their father is still fighting and breathing. They continued telling stories, singing and saying how much they love their dad. Then came nighttime when Abby and her siblings realized that they needed to take a rest. Something they know that their father would have wanted. They slept but didn’t hung-up the call. Until a few hours at midnight, Abby received a call. A call telling her that her father was gone. Just an hour after she and her siblings decided to take a break. Another something that she knows her father would have wanted. And that is not to let his kids hear him go.
Hearing the bad news
“Then came the call, just after midnight. I knew what I was going to hear, and braced myself.
Gone. You’re gone.
Cause of death: “Respiratory failure in the setting of aspiration and COVID-19.”
Time of death: 11:50 p.m.
If I’d stayed on the phone just one more hour, I could have been with you. We’d been on the line together for almost 36 hours. What are the chances you would pass within an hour of our break? Maybe you didn’t want us to hear you go. Or maybe you didn’t have the space to leave while we were hanging on your every breath. If I’m honest, maybe part of me didn’t want to hear your last gasps of air.”
Though letting go is hard that is the only thing that Abby can do. So upon saying “ I love you” to his dad, he pressed the red button to end the call. And he thanked God for welcoming his father, a father he loves so much. A father that he badly wants to talk to again.