Martin Addison, 44, of Waldwick, N.J., died of COVID-19 on April 29, 2020.
He was a speech pathologist at St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center where he specialized in the evaluation and treatment of patients with swallowing difficulties.
His wife, Pamela Addison told Yahoo News he was passionate about his job and helping his patients, but she says there was nothing that he enjoyed more than his role as “Papa” to his daughter, 2, and son, 5 months.
“He was the proudest papa. He loved being a dad. From the moment Martin became a dad, he just fell into the role.” Pamela Addison said.
This is part of a Yahoo News series honoring some of the American lives lost to COVID-19. Their stories are told by family and friends, who were left to deal with their often sudden and painful deaths.
PAMELA ADDISON: My name is Pamela Addison. I lost my husband Martin Addison to COVID.
Martin was 44 years old when he died. He was from England, so he had a passion for Liverpool soccer club. And we were just like, a very sports-oriented family.
He also was an avid guitar player and collector. I have a huge collection of guitars in the basement that, you know, I have to figure out what to do with. But he just loved music.
We have two children. So at the time of his death, my son was only five months, and my daughter just turned two. So he was the proudest papa there was. From the moment Martin became a dad, he just, like, fell into the role. My daughter was a daddy's girl. So he did a lot with my daughter, especially after my son was born.
Martin was a speech pathologist. So he worked with the swallowing center. So he would do assessments on people after they had strokes, oral cancer, you know, after they're taken off a trach. They would need a swallow evaluation to see what type of diet they could be on so. He was in people's faces all the time.
A few days before my daughter's second birthday, he had seen a possible COVID patient. On March 21, we had like a virtual little birthday party for our daughter. And then the next day, he felt the first symptom, which was like a cough.
I mean, like, he's had a cough before. So I wasn't too worried, although in the back of my mind he might have seen COVID-positive patient. So the next few days, he just had the cough. And he called out from work because he didn't want to expose anyone in case it was COVID. And then a few days later, we got the positive result.
And I feel like after the positive result, he kind of like did like a downward spiral like, not wanting to eat. He never lost his sense of smell or taste. And his fever was really high, but he just didn't want to eat. Drinking was really hard for him, and he just, like, slept all day.
April 2, he had another TeleMed appointment. And basically, he put it on speakerphone so I could hear it from the room he was isolating in. And the doctor was just saying that COVID was running its course, and he should start feeling better soon.
And I feel like within eight hours is when I heard him gasping for air. And I ran to the door, and I asked him if he could breathe. And it was the first time because I asked them every day. It was the first time he couldn't even answer me. He was just gasping.
And so I knew I had to call 911. And they took Martin down. I was holding our five-month-old son at that point. I whispered-- like, mouthed, I guess, I love you. I saw him get into the ambulance, and that was the last time I saw him.
I guess I was shocked. That I was like, how am I young widow? Why is this happening to me? And the other two thoughts were like, how am I going to tell my daughter that her papa's not coming home? And what am I going to do so my son knows who his papa was?
When they go to bed, after we read our books, Elsie will go bring the picture of us as a family to Graham and say, Graham, kiss Papa. And then Elsie will kiss Papa. And then at night, when I'm putting my daughter to bed, the last thing she does is kiss Papa's picture good night before I put her down. So we are always saying goodnight to Papa.
It's important because he was part of bedtime routine. So it's just a continuation of doing it. When they're kissing him goodnight, he's present, you know? And we talk-- and they'll know that he's in heaven looking over them.
Suddenly, more women were like, oh, my gosh, this is my story. I thought I was all alone. And women, and men, think they're still alone in being a young widow or widower with young children. So that's why I created the group because we need to come together and support each other and help each other navigate this unexpected journey we're on.
I want people to know that this virus is very real, and it really doesn't care who you are. My husband was young and healthy. I'm tired of hearing that it's only the elderly and people with pre-existing conditions.
That's not the case. Young, healthy people are dying. Children are dying. And I feel that that needs to get into people's head that this virus can kill you, and it does not discriminate.