Maura Lewinger says her husband, Joe, wrote her love letters every morning and left them in her lunch box.
They weren’t just the “have a great day” letters, she said, but they described what she meant to him and maybe their plans for the next day or the upcoming weekend.
“He always took care of me, got me my coffee and help me in every way,” she told CNN Friday.
Joe, 42, died last weekend from complications with coronavirus. Like other families across the US right now, Lewinger had to say goodbye to her husband virtually, over FaceTime in their case. She said that because of the stay-at-home orders, social distancing and overall isolation that this virus has brought on, the reality of her husband’s death sometimes misses her.
“Right now, not seeing anybody, it sometimes just feels like he’s at work,” she said.
Joe worked at a Catholic High School on Long Island, New York, for 20 years. He was an assistant principal and coach of the basketball team.
“He always had a listening ear, no matter what you were talking about, Joe was always listening. He always felt like you are the most important person in the room,” Lewinger said.
Joe had no pre-existing conditions and he started out with “mild symptoms,” Lewinger told CNN Friday, that included a low-grade fever. It was around St. Patrick’s Day in March that his fever spiked and he started to have issues breathing.
In the days before Joe’s death, Lewinger told CNN the two “pretty much spent 24/7 on FaceTime, trying to mediate and calm him, trying not to let him feel alone.”
“The country is getting used to remote learning and we had to get used to virtual caregiving and virtual marriage in just being there for each other,” she said.
When doctors told Lewinger her husband’s breathing was getting worse and that he was on three different blood pressure medications, she requested to speak with Joe on Facetime.
“I saw him and I begged him not to leave us and told him we all need him,” Lewinger said.
Doctors told her they’d try other methods to keep Joe alive. During that waiting period, Lewinger told CNN she listened to her wedding song on loop just staring into the backyard. Then the doctor called back.
“We have thrown the kitchen sink at him and I’m afraid he doesn’t have more time,” the doctor told Lewinger.
She told the doctor she needed to FaceTime with her husband again.
“I thanked him for being the most amazing husband, for making me feel cherished and loved every single day,” Lewinger said she told her husband.
The doctor then told her Joe’s pulse was gone.
“I played our wedding song for him. And then that was it,” Lewinger said.
Joe leaves behind his wife, three children, a son and two daughters. Lewinger stressed the importance of abiding by social distancing and staying at home.
“People are just not being careful. People are being so invincible-feeling and they think it can happen to them,” she said. “You cannot, cannot, be with people that are not in your house. As sad and lonely and everything that is, you must, must stay with only the people in your house.”
CNN’s Hollie Silverman contributed to this report.