An Oklahoma ICU nurse says she and her family are left "gutted" after her mother and husband died from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) just days apart.
Lizanne Jennings, 53, said goodbye to her husband Dennis Davis on November 23, three days after her mother, Linda, died from the same deadly virus.
In an interview with CNN, Jennings described her last moments with her husband, whom she said she warned back in March of the severity of COVID-19.
"Are you ready to be at peace?" Jennings asked Davis before he died, letting him think that his mother-in-law was recovering back at home.
"Because I knew he would keep fighting if I told him my mom had already died," Jennings explained.
"And so they started giving him morphine and Ativan. I turned him over and I rubbed his back. I said, 'I love you.' He said, 'I love you.' And I said, 'You're going to go now, okay? You can finally be at peace,' " Jennings recalled of the heartbreaking moment.
Jennings, who described her husband as "full of life," said that his and Linda's deaths are still "so raw."
"Sometimes I'm grieving for my husband and then I realize my mom's gone. And I'm grieving for my mom. I just think … oh, I'm going to go tell Dennis but then Dennis is gone," she said. "So the two people that would have been so supportive … you know, they're both gone."
Jennings told the New York Times that she sat her husband down at the onset of the pandemic in the U.S., telling him, "I need you to pay attention."
"Look at me: People we know, people we love — our family, our friends — people are going to get this virus," she told her husband. "And people we know are going to die."
Davis heeded his wife's warning, Jennings added in her CNN interview, and was vigilant about wearing a mask and sanitizing his hands frequently.
"I said, 'One of us could die, and I need you to hear that and I need you to wear your mask and I need you to hand sanitize.' And so he did," she told CNN. "Mom stayed home for eight and a half months. And so you have people that are doing everything right and we didn't get to hug my mom and we didn't go anywhere. … And we still lost them."
"It doesn't matter how strong you are," Jennings said of the contagious respiratory virus. "People are like, 'Oh man, Dennis is so strong. He's going to make it.' It happens no matter what. The virus keeps winning."
"It didn't have to be this way," Jennings added in the interview. "Our family didn't have to be gutted."
Jennings' son Brayden, an attorney, also contracted the virus, but has since recovered.
"It's kind of like we're broken, but we're continuing to break," he said of losing his father and grandmother. Brayden explained that he contracted COVID-19 after he tried to help his father, who had to be taken to the hospital in an ambulance.
"When I got that positive result that, that took away her support system. They were both in the hospital, and I couldn't come hug my mom because I couldn't get her sick," he said. "Luckily I recovered well, but we weren't able to be together because of COVID, and she was alone and grieving while they were both just gone."
More than 13.6 million people have contracted COVID-19 in the United States, according to data from the New York Times. At least 269,234 have died from the virus.
In Oklahoma, where Jennings lives, there have been nearly 200,000 cases, with at least 2,838 in the last week alone. At least 1,758 people have died from COVID-19 in the state, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health.
Health officials continue to urge Americans to stay home as much as possible, wear a mask in public and to practice social distancing as cases surge across the country.
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