Survived by their three kids, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, their loss was keenly felt, given their immense love for each other also extended to others.
The pandemic that sunk its talons into the world since early 2020 has been tearing families apart for months now. But one couple was determined not to let it claim one and leave the other to suffer alone.
For 52 years, Lois and Patrick Joseph " PJ" Connor from Ohio had a happy, loving marriage that saw them go from two to five after they had their three kids, Patrick Connor, Mary Mazik and Ann Lanier, before welcoming their grand- and great-grandchildren. However, when both of them got COVID-19, they had to be admitted to the Riverside Methodist Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, on January 30, 2021. When they got there, they were kept in separate rooms. But it didn't stop Lois and PJ from keeping their bond and the spark alive as they sent love notes to each other from across the hall with the help of their nurses, according to ABC 6.
As much as the display of affection warmed the hearts of those witnessing it, it was clear that the couple's health was worsening. Lois's condition began to deteriorate first, and PJ quickly followed. "My dad was struggling with COVID and a broken heart," Mary said of the period her parents were in separate rooms. As their health began to decline, the couple was placed in the same room with their beds side-by-side, WCNC reported. And that's when the small family of five could be together one last time, knowing that this was it.
A Blacklick couple dies in the hospital from #coronavirus— Lu Ann Stoia (@stoiawsyx6) February 2, 2021
3 hours apart from each other. Their son @pconnor390 is Newark’s Fire Chief who has been on the frontlines of the pandemic. The family shares their story tonight at 5:30 on @wsyx6 pic.twitter.com/DNU5nul6eZ
Remembering one of the final conversations she had with her father, Mary said, "Let go. It’s OK we’re going to be fine. Go be with mom.” As the couple held hands, PJ was the first to pass and he did so peacefully. Three hours later, after PJ was gone and Lois was kept in another room, she was gone too.
Mary added that right before her father died, as he was holding hands with her mother, the latter's oxygen levels appeared to briefly improve. “That touch,” the grieving daughter said, “was life-giving for them. It was life-giving.” That was what the Connors needed to finally let go. While Mary might have been able to come to terms with her parents' passing, it seemed to take the couple's other daughter, Ann, a bit more time. "I felt like they were going to come out," she said. "I'm still in shock. They were not done living their life. They were very active." As for the son, Patrick Connor, who is the fire chief at the Newark Fire Department, he added, “As I think of my mom, I think of my dad. When I think of my dad, I think of my mom.”
“The thought of leaving him with a broken heart was unbearable.” A central Ohio couple dies hours apart from COVID-19. Their children say they are thankful for their strong faith and the nurses who were “angels” at Riverside Methodist Hospital. The story tonight at 5 #10TV pic.twitter.com/zaqO9yg58U— Lindsey Mills (@LindseyMills7) February 3, 2021
However, as grief-stricken as the family was, the three children didn't forget to thank the people who helped ease their parents' passage. “My heart goes out to those health care workers that helped us and I can’t thank them enough and we move on to the next thing and they stay, and they are still treating patients today,” said Patrick in a statement to ABC 6. “The doctors and the nurses were phenomenal,” added Ann. “They never ever made one of us feel like we were putting them out, taking too much time.”
In a tribute to their parents, an obituary page on Schoedinger.com was set up to share the memory of Lois and PJ Connor and celebrate the kind of people they were before they were taken by the virus.