April 27, 2020 at 12:15 AM EDT – Updated April 27 at 1:16 AM
DANBURY, Conn. (WFSB/CNN) – A Connecticut father’s love lives on, thanks to a message the 32-year-old left behind for his wife and two young children before he died from the novel coronavirus.
Jonathan Coelho, 32, lost a month-long battle with COVID-19 on Wednesday. His wife, Katie Coelho, says he was hospitalized in late March and spent 20 days on a ventilator.
“It went from ‘I don’t feel really good’ to ‘OK, this is kind of scary’ to my husband’s life. He was fighting for his life within four or five days,” Katie Coelho said. “It’s very, very real, and people need to understand that my kids are going to grow up without a dad because of this.”
The healthy father of two, who worked as a probation officer, had taken precautions, as he was worried about getting sick and passing it on to his children, 10-month-old Penelope and 2-year-old Braedyn, who has cerebral palsy and is at high risk.
Unfortunately, Jonathan Coelho came in contact with someone through his work who tested positive for COVID-19.
In the days after her husband died, Katie Coelho opened his phone to save some pictures and found a note he had written in his messaging app to her and his children, right before he was put on a ventilator for the first time.
“It’s a way to be like Daddy was very sick and Daddy was very scared, but he wanted you guys to know how much he loved you,” Katie Coelho said.
In the note, Jonathan Coelho told his family how much he loved them and that they gave him the best life he could have asked for.
“I am so lucky. It makes me so proud to be your husband and the father to Braedyn and Penny,” he wrote to Katie Coelho. “Seeing you be the best mom to the kids is the greatest thing I’ve ever experienced.”
He also had messages for his kids, writing that Braedyn was his “best bud” and he was “proud to be his father” and that Penelope “can have whatever she wants in life.”
“I’m going to be able to show them: look at how much your dad loved us and look how much everyone else saw your dad loved you… So, it’ll be good that I at least have that little extra piece to share with them,” Katie Coelho said.
Jonathan Coelho’s obituary says he will be “desperately missed” by friends and family, particularly his heartbroken wife and children who “will miss his love and smile every single day for the rest of their lives.”
A GoFundMe for the family, started in the days after Jonathan Coelho was first admitted to the hospital, has raised more than $760,000.
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