Naperville woman shares heartbreak after losing father to COVID-19

NAPERVILLE, Ill. (WLS) -- A Naperville woman is sharing her heartbreak after recently losing her only parent to COVID-19.

Michele Raymer says her father's death shows just how unpredictable and scary this virus can be.

"My mom died when I was seven," she said. "The first thing he did is he sat me on his lap. He told me what happened. He said, "It's you and me, kid. We're gonna get through this.'"

Raymer grew up with only one parent, but her dad, Jim, could not have been more supportive, attentive or loving. He enrolled her in sports and coached several of her teams. And he wasn't afraid of the so-called mom stuff either.

"He taught me how to braid my hair," she said. "He took me shopping for my first bras."

At 65, and with type-2 diabetes, Jim knew he was at higher risk for complications from COVID, so he was careful.

He and Michele spent time together outdoors, socially distanced. Jim always wore a mask.

But on November 3, he became ill. His condition worsened. Last Monday, Michele checked him into the hospital.

"They said he had COVID pneumonia," she said. "So, they had him on oxygen and started giving him antibiotics. But didn't put him on a ventilator or anything."

She could only check in by text, but Michele was soothed by her dad's reassurances that his condition wasn't getting any worse.

"I texted him, 'Alright, I'm going to go to bed. I love you. Goodnight.' 'Goodnight honey. I love you.' And then three hours later, I guess, is when he went into cardiac arrest."

The virus had attacked Jim's heart and there was nothing his doctors could do to save him.

"When I got there, that's when they let us know that they weren't going to be able to... bring him back," she said.

Michele said her family did everything right, but that the virus is unpredictable. Nobody really knows whether they will escape its wrath until they become infected.

"I will now never have another Thanksgiving [with my dad]," she said. "I will never have another Christmas [with him]. I will truthfully never have another memory made with the most important person in my life because of this virus."
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