The widow of a young father who wrote a goodbye letter to her on his phone while dying of COVID-19 has spoken of her loss in a heartbreaking interview.
Choking back tears Katie Coelho, 33, told CNN how she will ‘spend the rest of her life missing her teammate and best friend’.
She said she will make sure the couple’s two young children know that ‘because every kid should grow up knowing that the people that raised them love them and were a good team’. Katie added: ‘My husband and I will always be a good team.’
Probation officer Jon, 32, died in hospital in Danbury, Connecticut, on April 22 after almost a month of trying to fight off the deadly virus and spending 20 days on a ventilator.
After leaving the hospital Katie found a note he had written to his young family in which he said: ‘You’ve given me the best life I could have ever asked for.’
In his last words to the family, Jon wrote on his phone how ‘it makes me so proud to be your husband and the father to Braedyn and Penny’.
The widow of a young father who wrote a goodbye letter to her on his phone while dying of COVID-19 has spoken of her loss in a heartbreaking interview with CNN
Jon Coelho, 32, died in a hospital in Danbury, Connecticut, on April 22. His 33-year-old wife Katie, pictured left with Jon and their two children, found a final note to the family on his phone
Katie Coelho was looking through her husband’s phone for pictures after his death from coronavirus when she came across these heartbreaking last words to her and their children
Katie Coelho lost her 32-year-old husband to coronavirus. After his passing she found notes he’d written to his family on his cell phone.
“He was my teammate and my best friend and I’m going to spend the rest of my life missing that…my husband and I will always be a good team.” pic.twitter.com/mPit3955fa
— CNN Newsroom (@CNNnewsroom) April 27, 2020
Describing the moment Katie said she discovered the note, she told CNN‘s Brooke Baldwin, who has faced her own battle with COVID-19, she ‘screamed’ and immediately called Jon’s parents to say ‘he left us a note’.
Describing the days since her husband’s death she said: ‘I feel like I’m on the outside looking in. It’s awful. I didn’t ask for this life, I don’t want this life without him.’
Katie said she sat their two young children down and told them their father had ‘fought really hard to come home but god needed him’.
She added: ‘I will never not let them know how much he loved them.’
Discussing how she found the note Katie said she had looked through his phone hoping to find more pictures of their children – Braedyn, who is two and has cerebral palsy, and ten-month-old Penelope.
In it Jon concluded: ‘I’m so lucky. Don’t hold back, and if you meet someone know that if they love you and the kids that I love that for you. Always be happy no matter what!’
Asked about that final line Katie said Monday: ‘I understand why he said them but I wish he hadn’t because there is noone that will ever come close to Jonathan.
‘But I know he wanted to ease my heart. There is no one who will ever come remotely close to him.’
Katie Coelho, 33, rushed to the hospital in Danbury, Connecticut, on Wednesday after her husband of seven years Jon suffered a cardiac arrest as a result of the coronavirus
Katie, pictured here with Jon, described her husband as ‘their rock and foundation’ and said that they are ‘beyond heartbroken’ following his death Wednesday from coronavirus
A GoFundMe set up to help the family reached more than $800,000 on Monday.
Katie said the family had not asked for the money but ‘it will just make sure that we will be ok’. She added: ‘Jon was most afraid that we won’t be ok. This will help him rest a little bit.
‘I would give it all back just to see him again but i appreciate people wanting to take care of us.’
Jon went into sudden cardiac arrest on Wednesday after 28 days in hospital, 20 of which he spent on a ventilator.
He first tested positive for coronavirus on March 26 after he discovered he may have been exposed.
Katie said her husband appeared to be improving in the days before his death.
She wrote on Facebook. ‘Our everything was stolen from us. My heart is not even broken it’s shattered. My kids and I will live the rest of our lives without Jonathan. And I don’t know how we’re going to do it.’
‘I love you guys with all my heart and you’ve given me the best life I could have ever asked for,’ Jon, pictured right, wrote in his final words to wife Katie, son Braedyn and daughter Penny
The family was cautious as two-year-old Braedyn has cerebral palsy but they contracted the virus. Penny and Katie showed mild symptoms and Braedyn was asymptomatic
A visibly upset Anderson Cooper also spoke with mother-of-two Katie on Friday. He shared his own grief at losing his father at a young age.
Katie said then it pains her to know the couple’s two children will not know how her husband Jon ‘was the greatest human being’.
She told CNN Friday: ‘They brought me into his room and he was laying there and he just looked scared. He didn’t look peaceful and I just kept saying ‘I’m sorry.’
‘I know he left feeling scared and not wanting to go.
‘He was always my go-to person. He had an amazing way of always making you feel safe.
‘When you have heard of people passing, you read the stories and you almost look for a justification like oh, they were 65 years old or they smoke or have pre-existing conditions, but my husband doesn’t fall under any of these categories.’
She said Friday: ‘I keep thinking in my head there will be a time when I’ve been without my husband longer than I was with him, and it hurts a lot.’
Katie said the two had met in college and began dating after a number of years being friends. She said Jon had told her she was his ‘endgame’.
Paying tribute to her ‘funny, goofy’ husband Katie said Jon was an ‘infectious person, who loved everyone and was so pure’.
‘Katie you are the most beautiful caring nurturing person I’ve ever met,’ Jon wrote in a note that Katie shared with a GoFundMe page created for the family.
‘You 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,’ the note continued.
Jon called his son and daughter his ‘best bud’ and ‘princess’ before encouraging Katie, his wife of seven years, to move on if she meet somebody who loves them.
‘Let Braedyn [know] 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,’ Jon wrote.
‘Let Penelope know she’s a princess and can have whatever she wants in life.’
A visibly upset Anderson Cooper also spoke with mother-of-two Katie on Friday. He shared his own grief at losing his father at a young age
While Katie was able to remain at home as a caregiver for their son Braedyn, Jon was an essential worker at a local courthouse and continued to leave the house for work.
He had taken extra precautions because their son’s cerebral palsy, which meant he was in a group vulnerable to the virus.
Even when Jon tested positive, doctors believed that he would pull through.
‘This was his WORST fear, he always spoke about how he worried something would happen to him and he wouldn’t be here for us. And his worst fear came true,’ Katie said.
‘He was so super vigilant because he was so afraid of what would happen to our son if he caught it.’
Jon first experienced only minor symptoms, losing of his sense of smell and suffering a migraine and fatigue but it quickly developed into a severe cough.
‘Within 24 hours, he started coughing, and with the coughing fits, he wouldn’t be able to catch his breath in between,’ Katie told Buzzfeed News.
‘The doctor told him to go to the hospital because he’d probably need nebulizer treatments.’
He was initially to be hospitalized just over the weekend but his condition drastically worsened and Jon was sent to the ICU and placed on a ventilator.
On March 31, a CT scan revealed that the Covid-19 virus had shown up aggressively in his lungs and his condition was described as ‘severe’ as he began to cough up blood.
He would remain on a ventilator for the next three weeks before suffering a cardiac arrest on April 22.
Katie, who has also experienced symptoms, was able to rush to the hospital after receiving an update but was too late.
Their daughter Penny had a low-grad fever from the virus for three days while Braedyn proved to be asymptomatic, she shared via the GoFundMe.
Even in some of his last moments, Jon had thought of his family, writing out important passwords that Katie may need to know on his phone as well as writing his last heartfelt note.
‘Even though he was fighting for his life for the past month, I know up until the last second he wanted to make sure the kids and I were OK,’ Katie told Buzzfeed.
‘He knew he had to say something to me because I haven’t been able to speak to him in so long.’