JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – MaryAnn Williams prayed the rosary out loud in her Jacksonville hotel room every night while her husband was in the hospital.
She would stand outside in the parking lot, staring at his hospital window hoping he wouldn’t die alone.
Williams tested positive for the coronavirus at the same time as her husband. She had mild symptoms, but her husband, retired Air Force Maj. Gen. George Williams, had been in the hospital since November.
“There are no words to describe the emotions that you go through day to day, wondering if the person you love is going to live,” said MaryAnn Williams.
For a month, MaryAnn Williams and her two adult children fought to keep her husband alive.
She fought to move him to Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville after doctors told her he likely wouldn’t live. When a storm made it impossible for him to be transported by air, she followed the ambulance carrying him to Mayo Clinic in the middle of the night.
In a series of possibly life-saving procedures, doctors at Mayo Clinic dissolved the blood clots in his heart and amputated his leg.
Maj. Gen. Williams, 73, finally woke from his coma after his nurse began talking to his unconscious body.
“He was talking to me like I was his commanding officer,” said Maj. Gen. Williams. “I don’t know why I responded to that. I remember him talking to me and that may be when I started to wake up.”
For the first time since October, Maj. Gen. Williams is home, just in time for the holidays. Masked neighbors and a flying sign reading “Welcome home, Nick” flew above their house as he arrived.
“When I got my telephone back, I looked at it and there were hundreds of texts and emails, and little known to me – well known to them – they had this prayer chain going of 100 or more officers, airmen in the Air Force all checking on me every day,” said Maj. Gen. Williams. “The support of all our family and friends was powerful.”
George Williams said he doesn’t remember much from his time in the hospital. He jokingly recalls thinking it was Labor Day instead of Thanksgiving when he finally came out of his coma. His family had to fill in much of what happened during the weeks he spent in a hospital bed.
Gathered together on a Zoom call on Christmas Eve, his family talked about how none of them could have predicted he would be back home by Christmas, aware of the more than 20,000 COVID-19 positive patients in Florida who have died since the start of the pandemic.
“It’s a very odd disease. It can be nothing to something ferocious. Something that will take you from perfect health to near death in just a few days,” said Maj. Gen. Williams. “I kind of had these wild dreams for two or three weeks. I thought I was somewhere else. But they were working behind the scenes to keep me alive.”