Four Months

It’s been four months since Jonathan’s fight ended

Four months since he was stolen from us. Stolen by the virus, stolen by poor judgement, stolen by lack of knowledge; stolen from everything he knew and loved. 

The flashbacks have gotten worse lately, I was able to snap myself out of it originally. Now, I have images of him during his hospitalization and from that morning he passed in my head and I can’t get them out. I try to use the techniques my trauma counselor has worked with me on, but it does nothing which then ultimately leads to a panic attack. It isn’t triggered by anything, I could just be walking and then I will hear a voice inside my head say “Jonathan has died” and it’s game over. 

Jonathan was in the hospital for 28 days, and I have no idea what happened to him. I have no idea why he was intubated, I have no idea how he went to “recovering” , “preparing for discharge” and “best lungs on the floor” to where we are right now. I have no answers, because my questions were never answered by the only people that could have and should have. I know now that I will unfortunately never have answers. Our families will have to spend however long we have left on this earth not knowing why. I am not sure Jonathan even knew what happened. Why he was intubated, how he was not allowed to speak to me prior, how a doctor never attempted to contact me to tell me they were intubating him I can only imagine Jonathan would be just as confused as we all are.

I wish just one person would tell me what happened

I am not looking for a full 28 day breakdown, I just want to know what happened the morning they intubated him and the morning he passed. It sounds crazy that I don’t know these things, I should he was in the hospital but I don’t, I have no idea what happened.

Last night I was playing with the kids, and all of a sudden I felt like the wind was sucked out of me. It hit me that Penelope won’t have any true memories of her dad, none will be first hand memories. Fuck, how do I even begin to make that sound ok because it won’t. Jonathan wanted a daughter more than anything in the world. Our first two miscarriages were devastating on us as a couple, but as individuals as well. But each time we became pregnant we were so hopeful for a healthy pregnancy, still slightly hoping it would be a girl. When we went through IVF, we had 7 healthy embryos (all boys), we were ecstatic to have a son. After Braedyn we had no interest in becoming pregnant again and we ultimately made a decision in September 2018 to start looking into adopting after Braedyn’s first birthday. One month after that decision was made we found out we were not only pregnant (without any assistance), but pregnant with a little girl. 

Her birth was complicated, and after trying to push for 5 hours it was clear I needed a C-section. When Penelope finally made her grand entrance I remember Jonathan jumping up from behind me to see her (he was quickly grabbed by the anesthesiologist so he didn’t pass out) and him yelling “babe she’s here!” The pride he had over his children was the greatest blessing a person could ever witness. 

Penelope’s first word was “Da”, when Jonathan would walk in after work she would crawl to him as fast as she could yelling “HI DA HI DA HI DA”. She was 100% a daddy’s girl. She was truly his princess, he worshipped her. Knowing she will never remember that first hand is like losing him all over again. The way Jonathan loved and treated me is how a man should treat a woman. Penelope deserved to grow up seeing that first hand, her time being his princess was too short. 

Braedyn also lost his best friend, the bond Jonathan shared with him is irrerplacable. Both of our children had this deep bond with their dad, and it was stolen from them.

I am trying to make up for it, I know I could never replace it (I have no interest to). But I am not able to be the mom I want to be, the last 5 months since Jonathan became sick has thrown me into a world unknown. I am trying to be the mom that I loved being, I am trying to manage a household on my own, I am trying to take care of Jonathan’s estate , I am trying to figure out what our future will be. But my “trying” is absolutely failing, I can’t keep my head above water. I can’t give them the attention I want to. I can’t keep the house running, I can’t keep up with attorneys, accountants, insurance companies. I want to be the person I was before this, but it seems undoable. 

I feel incompetent, I think of all the things Jonathan loved about me, what he admired about me. All those things he felt toward me that is so obvious in every picture we have together, that woman he fell in love with she’s gone. She died when he did, and I don’t know how to bring even some version of her back. 

He was my compass, he brought me to where I needed to be and I know I was that person for him as well. When he was first intubated I spoke with the hospital chaplain every day. She had also met with Jonathan before he was intubated and had spoken with him about us. I asked her what he had said, and she told me he kept saying “I love my wife, she is the strongest person I’ve ever met; she is my rock”. And I know I was, but now I am trying to find that balance without him which I just can’t seem to do. And to be completely honest I shouldn’t have to. He should be here, he should have come home. The idea of living the next how many years without him only makes this worse. There’s no fix for this, just years and years of suffering, years of knowing I’m farther away from him. 

He has become just stories now, there are no longer new memories. Jonathan lit up the room when he walked in it. Now that he’s not here everything feels so dark, there’s no light that can brighten it. 

How could my husband be gone 4 months? How can he be really never coming home?

I am not ok.

I am not ok. I will never ever be ok again.

I keep thinking this isn’t real, none of this is real. Maybe I’m the one on the ventilator sedated and this is the nightmare I am stuck in. Maybe Jonathan is ok, and home with the kids and soon I will be awake and able to hug him. I’m praying that’s what this is, even though I know deep down it’s not. He’s gone, I will never see him again, I will never see him smile at the kids and I again. I won’t ever hear his voice again… he’s gone. Like how fucked up is that.

I am so afraid I am going to forget, forget his voice, his smile, his laugh, his hugs. I know deep down this isn’t the case, I could never forget anything about him but haven’t heard his voice in months, there have been no “babes” no “I love you” nothing just silence. So even though it hurts, I’ve watched all the videos I have almost every single day, just to make sure I remember his voice. His voice that told me he loved me multiple times a day, his voice that laughed all the time, that voice that was singing all day everyday (horribly). He would always sing the words wrong… always. I think he did it on purpose because he knew it made me laugh, those little things are part of the million little things I love about Jonathan.

I’m still clinging onto what our lives were before this. I keep hoping that life will come back, but it’s not. Being in our house without him is HELL, being without him is HELL. I know him so well, I know what our texts would be, I know what our conversations would be. I know everything about him, and our life that we built together. And he’s not here anymore to continue it, I have NO ONE to talk to. I literally only have conversations in my head with Jonathan. I don’t hear him respond but I keep hoping he will. I’m so lonely, so lonely. And yes, I have had family around to help, but it is not Jonathan. I love our families, and I am grateful each of them have stepped up to help us in some way. But I can’t talk to them, they’re not Jonathan. I want my husband, I want to joke with him, I want him to annoy me, I want to watch him with our kids and just smile at how amazing he is as a father. Jonathan always drove me insane, I would get frustrated with him, if he wasn’t a helicopter parent like I am. But still, I can’t think of a single interaction he had with our kids where I didn’t smile to myself. Watching him be “Da” was the most amazing thing to witness ever. I’ve never seen someone go from not having any interaction with young babies, to a complete pro like Jonathan. He absolutely set the standards on what a man should be as a father. I loved him more because of how he was as a dad. Even when things were tough for us (because we’re a normal couple who has rough days) seeing him just be himself with the kids automatically made me melt. The kids were so enamored by him, he is the fun parent. The one who wrestles and is over the top, the one who always has the kids smiling and laughing.

And that was stolen from our kids and from Jonathan, absolutely stolen and I am devastated for them.

I went back and read some of our final texts to each other in the hospital, and even though now it’s very obvious how concerned Jonathan was, I also see how hard he was trying to believe he was going to come home. I don’t think he ever thought he wasn’t going to make it home. And don’t get me wrong he 100% voiced how scared he was, but he also seemed like he was getting better. We talked about how “blessed” we were, and how we had so many things to do when he got home. One of which was going on our first family vacation ever. We kept saying we were going to do it, but once the pandemic became a reality, we quickly realized we need to prioritize what we want to do and stop worrying about the rest. I mean two weeks prior to Jonathan becoming sick we were definitely starting to take a different approach to how we were living our life. We knew we needed to take advantage of our time together, and we were starting to. But then it was shattered, our perfectly imperfect world was burned to the ground.

One of the texts he sent me said “I miss you so much, there is a hole in my heart”. And fuck, if that isn’t a direct hit on what it feels like right now. I read over our final days of texting, and I told him every second I could how much I loved him, and how proud of him I was. And I am glad I did that, we wouldn’t speak on the phone much because it took a lot out of him, and he had a roommate, so he didn’t want to be rude. But I made sure he knew I was here, ok and how madly in love with him I was. And Jonathan told me he loved me as well, but he always did that. I hopefully want to get our texts printed out someday soon, he was the sweetest human being to me. Yes, we had off days but 90% of our days were amazing. I was told how much he loved he loved me so many times a day, he never went more than a few hours without saying it. I mean I didn’t realize how much until it’s gone completely silent. I know I would also randomly tell him I loved him during the day, and especially when he was home. I just always loved hearing him say it. I also loved hearing him tell me old stories about us, and what he thought of me, what he loved about me. He always got so annoyed when I asked him questions about when we first started dating, because he had “told me a million times’ but I still loved hearing he tell me just one more time.

I think it’s because I looked at Jonathan like “holy shit, how does this amazing man love me”. I mean Jonathan is my dream man, every single thing about him was attractive to me. I loved kissing him, hugging him and just being affectionate with him. Because I found him that attractive, and over the last few years he was really becoming comfortable with himself (in a fashion sense) and it was amazing. The way he dressed, he did his hair, his tattoos. He was undeniably gorgeous. I mean even thinking about him now, I picture him, and I still think of what a gorgeous person he was.

He was my biggest crush for 13 years, and we spent 10 years together. I always thought how amazingly lucky I was that I married my dream guy. Jonathan considered himself lucky as well, and you know what that got him? Nothing. Because of me he’s gone, because he loved me, he is gone. I wish I could stay positive when I write this all down, but I can’t because my head isn’t positive. I keep thinking about all these amazing things about Jonathan and writing them down make me fall even more deeply in love with him. But he’s gone, so falling more in love with him accomplishes nothing. I should have done this when he was alive, he would have felt more loved. But I didn’t.

The silence in my head, my heart and our home is deafening. Do you know how scary it is to realize you will never have that sort of connection with anyone ever again? I will never have love and friendship ever again. I have our kids, which is amazing, and I am so thankful they are 50% Jonathan. But my kids won’t stay up and have late night conversations with me, they won’t have the same stories and memories. My true connection with any other human is gone. It’s scary and its devasting.

I feel awful for the kids, I look at them and see everything they lost. I see everything that was taken away from Jonathan, and what our lives will lack from now on. For years I think I was able to be this wonder mom because I had Jonathan as my biggest cheerleader. He literally made me feel like this superhero, but I don’t have that anymore. I don’t have my best friend in the corner telling me how amazing I am. I think having Jonathan be so complimentary on my parenting made me be an even better parent because I loved impressing him. I loved him telling me how amazing I was, and it was not because I needed positive reinforcement. It was because I thought Jonathan was an impeccable person, and I admired everything about him. So, hearing this person I looked up to tell me how amazing he thought I was, it was the biggest high.

So now I am trying to figure out how to be mom and dad, I am trying to be my own cheerleader but it’s not working. I can’t be the mom I want to be without Jonathan, I didn’t want to be a mom without him. And now I am a single parent. My life is a sick joke.

I keep picturing Jonathan in the hospital, the conversations we had (more me talking to him), and I think about that last night. What he looked like, and looking at him, knowing he suffered. It’s almost as if I get close to picturing a happy memory of him, and that vision pops in my head. My husband thinking, he had made it, we were going to see him soon and then his heart just stops. How scared he must have been, how much he missed us. And now he can’t be with us, there is no coming back from this. This isn’t something that with time will get better, there’s no fixing this. He’s gone, and his physical body is in a beautiful clock on our dresser. His spirit is somewhere far from me, and it’s over.

It’s all over.

Wait For It

Welcome to the shit show, or as I like to call it my life.

Although it may not be the most eloquent way to word it, it is the nicest way to put it. My name is Katie Coelho, I am 33 years old with two children Braedyn (age 2 1/2) and Penelope (she’s 1). My husband Jonathan passed away on April 22nd, 2020, due to complications from Covid-19, he was a healthy, young, amazing 32 year old man and he was stolen from us in the worse way possible. How did we end up here? That’s a question I ask myself every single day, multiple times a day. None of this makes sense, from start to finish, it just doesn’t add up. I look back over the last 10 years, and more importantly the last 5 months and none of it seems real.

Our lives have always been filled with complications, trauma and overcoming more obstacles that a young family should ever have to face. But we did it, and we did it together. So, when Jonathan was exposed to Covid we were going to take this on and get through it the way we always had. But life had other plans for us. The kids also tested positive; I was never tested because at the time we were all infected there weren’t enough tests (which is a whole other thing I eventually need to rant about). However, it is safe to assume I did have it as well. Our fear was for Braedyn, he was born with several very serious neurological conditions which make him very high risk for any illness, especially Covid. But thankfully, he was completely Asymptomatic, as were Penelope and I (for the most part). Jonathan however, he became very sick very fast. Out of the abundance of caution his primary care doctor sent him to the ER for nebulizer treatments, and I will forever regret letting him go. To this day I believe him going to the hospital was the biggest mistake of our lives and Jonathan never came home.

I will save the details about Jonathan’s hospital stay for another time, my anger towards that whole situation is one that I am still processing. I do believe what happened there needs to be shared, but I want to do so with a clear and sound mind. And right now, my feelings towards the hospital (not any of Jonathan’s nurses, for the most part they were absolutely amazing) would not allow to share our experience properly.

I’m sure most people who are reading my blog are familiar with “the note”. My husband’s last words to my children and I have been shared with millions of people all over the world. It’s absolutely insane.  Jonathan and I are extremely private people. We loved our little Coelho Island and thrived in it. The morning Jonathan passed away and I discovered that note (and then shared it) was surreal. I wish I could say it was a blur but it’s not. I could tell you moment by moment what was going on, what people were wearing, what they were doing, what was said. I don’t remember honestly what compelled me to share part of his note, I have no clue. Maybe it was utter disbelief, shock, sleep deprivation? I have no idea, but sharing this note

“I love you guys with all my heart and you’ve given me the best life I could have ever asked for. I am so lucky it makes me so proud to be your husband and the father to Braedyn and penny.

Katie you are the most beautiful caring nurturing person I’ve ever met… are truly one of a kind…..make sure you live life with happiness and that same passion that made me fall in love with you. Seeing you be the best mom to the kids is the greatest thing I’ve ever experienced.

Let Braedyn now he’s my best bud and I’m proud to be his father and for all the amazing things he’s done and continues to do.

Let Penelope know she’s a princess and can have whatever she wants in life.

I’m so lucky….”

Would catapult our family into a public place. That post I made the morning Jonathan passed away now has over 500,000 views and has been shared over 1 thousand times. It’s mind blowing. Within hours of sharing Jonathan’s passing, it spread like wildfire. I had Buzzfeed news contact me, and I agreed to do an interview with them maybe 5 or 6 hours after I left my husband at the hospital. I don’t know why I felt ok with doing the interview, normally I would be hesitant but I wanted to share our story, I wanted people to know Jonathan. I had seen the pieces they had done on other victims of Covid, and I thought it would be a good thing to put a face to this pandemic. I didn’t realize how big of a face we were going to be. I basically word vomited my way through that interview, I was so delirious with grief I really had no idea what I said until I read it. The reporter was extremely kind, and patient which for a wife who lost her husband 7 hours earlier was greatly appreciated. We spoke for about an hour or so, and the reporter said she would send me the article the next morning right before it was published.

When I read it the next day, it brought tears to my eyes. It did a great job of showing our love, but most importantly highlighting what a fantastic human being Jonathan is. I was proud of it, and thought it was a worthy memorial piece, I was also excited for it to be on BuzzFeed since I’ve been an avid reader for years. The article was posted at 4:52 pm on April 23rd, and by 6 pm that night our lives were turned upside down.

We went from the quiet, private Coelho family to Anderson Cooper, Ellen DeGeneres show (side note, I totally understand why people are saying what they are about her show. It wasn’t the best experience), people magazine, Inside Edition (oh do I have stories about that) and Gayle King all within 48 hours. And that’s just the superficial side of this messed up nightmare journey we are in.

I keep trying to figure out what I am doing here, how did I end up here but I never come up with answers. The only thing that I can kind of clearly see is that I have been given a platform where I can put a face to this pandemic, to grief, to parenting and to raising a medically complex child. I am not sure if anyone will want to hear what I have to say, but that doesn’t mean I am going to be silent. I am not interested in the attention for myself, but I want to tell Jonathan’s story, Braedyn’s story, Penny’s story , our families story. So that is exactly what I am going to do.

So, like I said in the beginning of this post.

Welcome to the Shit Show. I am so thankful you are here.