My husband died from coronavirus! I never thought that those words would be coming out of my mouth or that it would become a part of my story….but it has.
On January 23rd at 12:30 in the morning I got the call that changed my life. “Mrs. Slaughter this is ___ from Baptist, I’m sorry to inform you that Mr. Slaughter has passed.” I gasped and said that I was on my way…..
My husband, Pastor Ernest E. Slaughter, Sr. was first diagnosed with the virus on January 7th and even though he was prescribed medication from the doctor he wasn’t getting any better.
If I take you to the Emergency Room you have to promise me that you’re coming back home.
I took my husband to the ER on January 17th. Before we left home I asked him to promise me that he would come back home and he did, but God had other plans…. After being admitted we found out that his oxygen level had dropped to 60. A healthy persons oxygen is usually around 95-100. This is known to happen in people with a severe case of the virus. They call it “silent hypoxia. “
The term silent comes from the fact that the patient does not appear to be short of breath. They are not gasping, they do not have an increase in their respiratory rate, and they are not complaining of feeling air hunger or looking uncomfortable.
Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff,
they comfort me.
Most individuals, when their oxygen levels start to drop into the eighties or lower, will feel air hunger and start to breathe more rapidly and feel uncomfortable.
He spent his first couple of days in the ER before being moved to ICU (we had to wait on a bed to open). The Doctor put him on Oxygen and started the “coronavirus cocktail” to help fight the virus. They wouldn’t let me stay with him, so I would go visit him in the morning before work, during my lunch break and evenings to check on him. While in the ER they did allow me in his room as long as I “suited” up. That means N95 mask, face shield, gloves, and robe. I didn’t care as long as I was able to care for him. I would feed him ice and give him water to keep him hydrated and FaceTime his kids so they could say hello.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever
By Wednesday he was being moved to ICU and the visits became stricter. When I went to visit I wasn’t prepared for the new rules or what I saw. When I got to his room the nurse stopped me and said I couldn’t go in, that I could only look at him through the glass door. He looked like he was suffering. I immediately began to cry as I tried to get his attention, but he was sleeping. The nurse expressed how sorry she was and I asked her to please tell him that I was there and that I loved him. She said she would.
Thursday morning when I arrived he was awake and eating! The nurse met me at his room door to let me know that she gave him my message. I thanked her and asked her to please have his Dr. call me for an update. As I left heading to work I called my mother and his family to share the good news. He was sitting up and eating! By the time I made it to work his Dr. was calling with more good news,” Mrs. Slaughter I think we’re on the other side of this thing now. His lungs are looking good!” I felt a sigh of relief.
When I went back that evening he was resting. Not wanting to wake him, I just pressed my head up against the glass to pray. He noticed that I was there and removed his oxygen mask for a minute to tell me that he loved me… That’s all I needed. I went home that night with the anticipation of bringing him home Monday.
That Friday I took Slaughter’s sister with me to visit with him. She works in the medical field, so if the nurses said anything she would be covered. I thought it was going to be a “normal” visit, especially after getting good news on Thursday. When we got upstairs the nurse said,”Mrs. Slaughter he’s deteriorating.” I didn’t understand at first, so I replied,” what do you mean deteriorating?” He showed Slaughters’ sister and I pictures of his lungs and we couldn’t see a thing. It was like a white cloud was covering them. Fluid was building up in his lungs. With tears running down my face, I went to look at him through the glass and I could see that he was struggling to breathe and his skin looked dark. My husband pulled together enough strength to gesture for us to leave…. I knew then….
I left, went back to work and just sat there trying to wrap my head around what I was just told. I wasn’t at work an hour before the nurse was calling to tell me that they needed to put him on a ventilator. I immediately left work(my job is 5 minutes from the hospital) and as soon as I made it to the lobby of the hospital the nurse was calling me again. I told him I was downstairs and with tears rolling down my face…. I ran for the elevator. I made it upstairs in enough time to hear him asking for me. Before I could go in his room they made me suit up, this time they doubled everything from the mask to the gloves. When he heard me walking into the room he gathered enough strength to turn and look at me. I won’t share everything he and I shared with each other in that moment ( some conversations should be sacred) but I will say as I wiped the tears from his eyes he told me everything was going to be okay.. I told him I wasn’t going anywhere and he said he wasn’t either. I sealed the conversation with,”okay I’ll see you when you wake up!” By this time it was about 5 people in the room including the Dr. they made me step so they could prepare him for the ventilator. I went in the hallway to call my mother which took every bit of 5 minutes, and when I tried to go back in….they wouldn’t let me, “Mrs. Slaughter we need you to wait out here.” I knew then…..
In that moment I felt my husband slipping away from me. In that moment I felt alone and lost. I went home, talked to the Lord and crawled in the bed. At 8:45 p.m. I called to check on him and the evening nurse stated that his oxygen had dropped to 50 but that they had got it back up to 79. She assured me that they had him comfortable and that she would call me if anything changed.
I tried to go to sleep, but I couldn’t. I was uneasy. I tossed and turned and talked to God all night…and at 12:30 a.m. his nurse called with those words that are forever etched in my heart,” Mrs. Slaughter I’m sorry to inform you that Mr. Slaughter has passed.” I gasped and asked her where he was. She told me that he was still in his room waiting on me. I told her I was on my way…
COVID -19 has forever changed my life like it has many others. Back on November 28th, 2014 when I walked down the aisle to join in holy matrimony with Pastor Slaughter, you couldn’t of made me believe that we would only have 6 years together. Like all marriages we were faced with challenges, but we knew that no matter the storm, with God and a commitment to love and honor each other until death do us part…..that we would be okay.
The last words Pastor Slaughter said to me were,”I love you BB, it’s going to be okay.”
He never told me wrong, and I know eventually things will be okay, but they will never be the same.