PEARLAND, Texas — As coronavirus deaths continue to mount across the country, one of those deaths hit close to home for the KHOU 11 family. Former KHOU 11 News photographer John Shaw lost his wife Ellen Shaw to COVID-19 early this week and now has learned he too has contracted the virus.
"She made me a better man," Shaw said.
Ellen and John were together for more than 50 years. Their true love story interrupted too soon by the coronavirus.
"This virus can change your whole life like it did mine," Shaw said.
Two weeks ago, Ellen came down with a fever and a cough. Doctors at Memorial Hermann in Pearland suspected COVID-19 and tested her for the virus. Ellen stayed overnight with John by her side. The next morning she was allowed to go home to quarantine while they waited for her test results.
"As the weekend progressed, things got worse," John said. "By Monday afternoon, I couldn't control her vitals anymore."
Shaw then drove his wife to Methodist Hospital in the Texas Medical Center.
"The last time I saw her was when she was pushed away in her wheelchair," Shaw said. "They took my wife from me and I didn't even get to kiss her goodbye."
Hours later, Ellen was on a ventilator in the ICU.
"The virus grabbed a hold of her lungs," Shaw said.
Within days, she was alone in hospice. Her family was unable to be by her side due to concern about spreading the virus. John was forced to say goodbye to his great love whispering into a phone a nurse put to her ear.
"Fourteen days ago she had excellent health," Shaw said. "And now she's gone. I miss her so much."
One day after Ellen's death, Shaw learned he too had tested positive for the virus. He's quarantined at home with a fever and also lost his sense of smell.
"This past Christmas I bought her a nice bottle of perfume," Shaw said. "She loved it and I loved it too and I wanted to smell it to remember her. I opened it up and I sprayed it and put my nose through it, and I couldn't smell anything."
The virus that took his wife now forcing him to grieve in isolation in a house that's a living reminder of her. That's the part no one really knows how to handle.
"It's hard for me to be honest," Shaw said. "That's the hardest thing. Not to have somebody to hug you, somebody to touch you. It's something my wife and I did all the time. Always holding hands. Always together."
For now, he'll take every air hug he can get. His son stopped by Sunday to make sure he knew he wasn't alone.
"He brought some food for me and gave me an air hug," Shaw said. "The whole family gave me an air hug but stayed 6 to 8 feet away. I broke down in tears."
Family and faith in God are the two things that keep Shaw going through this tough time. He has an infallible trust that one day they'll be together again and that their love story will continue.
"I have no doubt," Shaw said. "I can't wait for that day to see her."