“I thanked him for being the most amazing husband, for making me feel cherished and loved every single day,” said Maura Lewinger.

By Rachel DeSantis
April 08, 2020
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A grieving New York wife who lost her husband to coronavirus was able to play him their wedding song in his final moments thanks to FaceTime.

Maura Lewinger opened up about the death of her beloved husband Joe, 42, on CNN, and said she was lucky that she was able to be with him virtually when he died on March 28.

“I thanked him for being the most amazing husband, for making me feel cherished and loved every single day,” she said, adding that she queued up a special tune after the doctor told her Joe no longer had a pulse.

“I played our wedding song for him. And then that was it,” she said. “So I was with him when he passed.”

Joe, a father of three and an assistant principal at The Mary Louis Academy in Queens, did not have any pre-existing conditions, and his battle with coronavirus began with mild symptoms, his wife said.

He initially had a low-grade fever, but it spiked around St. Patrick’s Day, and soon escalated to respiratory trouble.

Maura told CNN that she spent nearly 24/7 with Joe on FaceTime while he was a patient in the hospital, and made attempts to calm him down and try “to not let him feel alone.”

When a doctor told her he’d taken a turn for the worse, she was able to speak to him on FaceTime, where she “begged him not to leave us and told him we all needed him.”

Maura said that as she waited at home on Long Island to see whether the doctor’s attempts to save Joe would be enough, she played their wedding song on a loop until the doctor called once again, and she had her final FaceTime.

“He always had a listening ear, no matter what you were talking about, Joe was always listening. He always felt like you were the most important person in the room,” she told CNN. “He always took care of me, got me my coffee and helped me in every way.”

Though Maura said his death still feels surreal — “It sometimes just feels like he’s at work” — she doubled down on the importance of taking social distancing seriously.

“People are just not being careful. People are being so invincible-feeling and they think it can’t 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.”

A GoFundMe page organized for the family, which also includes son Jack and daughters Madison and Maeve, has so far raised $90,110.

“Joe was funny, smart, compassionate and selfless… always putting others before himself,” the page said. “A loving husband, father, friend and school assistant principal. He worked hard every single day to do this part to make this world a better place. He touched the lives of everyone he met and was always willing to offer help, support, guidance and advice.”

Meanwhile, GoFundMe.org, the company’s non-profit and advocacy arm, has launched a fundraiser that offers support for organizations and individuals affected by coronavirus, the platform said in a statement provided to PEOPLE.

“By donating to the GoFundMe.org general relief fund, the donation supports many individuals who have started fundraisers on GoFundMe related to this pandemic, and organizations dedicated to serving the people,” the company said. “Donations to the general relief fundraiser of GoFundMe.org, a United States charity, are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law, and will broadly support communities impacted by coronavirus.”

The information in this story is accurate as of press time. However, as the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to evolve, it's possible that some data have changed since publication. While Health is trying to keep our stories as up-to-date as possible, we also encourage readers to stay informed on news and recommendations for their own communities by using the CDCWHO, and their local public health department as resources.

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