“Those that you love, hold them extra tight, keep them extra safe, give them an extra squeeze before they go to bed or school or work because they might not come back”.
In my job I often find myself speaking to some incredible people at the worst time in their lives, this week was no different.
On Tuesday I interviewed a young woman called Katie Martin. Katie is a home care manager; her fiancé Richard had been volunteering as a community carer over the past few weeks to help people isolated because of coronavirus.
Two weeks ago, Katie and Richard both began to feel ill, they started with a cough and a temperature, soon Richard deteriorated and had difficulty breathing. He was taken to hospital and eventually placed on a ventilator. Within four days of being admitted, the 29-year-old had died.
Speaking to Katie was one of the saddest and most difficult interviews I’ve ever done.
She spoke openly and shared the last messages she received from Richard with me, where he’d thanked her for “The Best Life”.
I’m sharing it here because I think it’s important to remember that behind every number and statistic in this pandemic, there’s a person, family and friends left devastated. There are people like Katie who haven’t been with the one they love during their last moments, there are friends unable to attend funerals, there are hopes and dreams stolen.
Katie told me all about Richard and how special he was, I was struck by how her face lit up when she remembered him and the things he used to do, then I’d feel the sadness that it had all been taken away from her at such a young age, it really is tragic.
“Richard was so funny; he went out of his way to make people laugh. He was so loving it didn’t matter if someone did him wrong or if he didn’t agree, he wouldn’t do harm against you. He just wanted to help other people, he was selfless, he was lovely, and I don’t know what I’m going to do without him.
“He’d just kind of got his life how he wanted it, he was happy, he was settled. We were making plans for his 30thbirthday to go to Scotland, just a couple of weeks ago he was dancing round the flat saying “Oh we’re going get married, we’re going to go to Gretna Green” he was just so excited and now that’s gone, it’s not going to happen”.
“I feel deprived of it all. I feel like I’ve missed out on a lot. I thought he’d be here, I thought we’d grow old together, I thought we’d have the house and the kids and the grandkids and all the things to come in the future and now it’s gone and that’s the hardest bit” Katie Martin
Katie should be excitedly planning her wedding, instead she’s planning a funeral.
Richard knew his chances of survival weren’t great before being placed on a ventilator, in messages to Katie he said, “It’s a 50/50 chance, it’s in God’s hands”. She told me that during their final Facetime chat, his only concern was for her and her health, he was reassuring her that she’d get better.
In the days since speaking to Katie, it’s really made think. I couldn’t imagine being in either one of their shoes, I really wouldn’t want to.
The reason she decided to speak in the media.
There were a number really. She wanted people to know what Richard was like, the funny, caring man she fell in love with.
She wanted to make sure people got the message to stay at home, she’s worried that people are becoming complacent, that they think it won’t happen to them. She told me she was sharing her story to hammer the point home that this can happen to you.
And finally, she wanted to tell people to cherish their loved ones. To not let anything go unsaid, to hold people extra tight, to forgive, to be kind and live for the moment because you never know when it’ll be the last.
So, in memory of Richard tell your family and friends you love them.
Thanks again to Katie for speaking to me xxxx
Journalist, writer, traveller, music lover, collector of hats, news addict, bookworm