GARDNERS, Pa. (WHTM) — This week the U.S. hit half a million coronavirus deaths, which is a stark reminder that the pandemic isn’t over yet. Behind each of those deaths is a family grieving the loss of their loved ones.
The Steiglemans are one of those families. Peggy and Ed Steigleman were a Gardners’ couple who’d been married for nearly 50 years when they both caught COVID in December.
The virus took Ed’s life, leaving Peggy heartbroken.
“I fought really hard to keep him with me, never knowing that COVID would be what would take him,” Steigleman said.
Ed struggled with diabetes and other health issues, but Peggy devoted her life to caring for him.
When he caught the coronavirus, there was nothing she could do for him other than be there for his final moments in the hospital.
“I got up in bed with him and I told him, I said ‘honey I’m really sorry. This is beyond me. I can’t do anything,'” Steigleman said.
It wasn’t how she expected to spend their Christmas, which also happens to be her birthday.
“Christmas will never be the same. It was my birthday, I’ll celebrate his life from now on out,” Steigleman said.
They had been taking precautions the entire pandemic and never imagined it would get to them.
“I’ve never seen anything like this before in my life. Because I took him to the hospital Monday, he was gone Friday,” Steigleman said. “He was gone in five days.”
Now she hopes sharing their story will help others understand how serious it is, and how important it is to still take safety precautions.
“It is not the flu. When it takes you, if you have a compromised immune system, you better pray to the dear lord that he’s going to spare you,” Steigleman said. “Don’t take it that they’re taking your freedom away. My God I saw it firsthand, it’s no joke.”
All she has left of the man she’s spent her life with are the pictures that hang in their home and the decades of memories they shared together.
“This was supposed to be the best years of our life. I retired last year. It just wasn’t meant to be. But I have all those memories to hold on to,” Steigleman said.