Bill and Carol Stewart met when they were just 4 years old. They lost touch, as people do. But over the years, the two reconnected, married, made a family, and eventually, died hand-in-hand, just moments apart, after battling COVID-19.
The Stewarts were “the true definition of soul mates,” according to their daughter, Melissa Noke.
On Dec. 30, after more than a week in intensive care at a New Hampshire hospital, the couple succumbed to illness after a weeks-long battle with COVID-19.
“As soon as they touched hands, Dad took his last breath, and seconds later, Mom took hers. They were happy to be next to each other,” said Noke.
The couple first met when they were small children, when Bill’s mother babysat for Carol, according to The Boston Globe. Like a perfect love story, the couple later fell in love and got married, then lived happily together in Salem, N.H. They went on day trips to Manchester and enjoyed the nearby beaches. They shared coffee in bed and welcomed grandchildren. Bill, 73, was an “adored” employee at a local Market Basket, and Carol, 69, loved her job as a home health aid.
They were married for 44 years in total.
“Everything they did, they did together,” Noke told the Globe. “They would get up and just dance together, Dad would sing to Mom. Every time he came home from work he’d say, ‘Honey, I’m home.’ In the morning — every single morning — he would make her a cup of coffee, and then knock on the bedroom door and say, ‘Room service!’”
And like a true love story, it seems the pair couldn’t live without each other.
Last month, the couple — who were unvaccinated against COVID-19 — tested positive for the virus, and quickly fell ill, according to the Globe. They were both admitted to the intensive care units at Parkland Medical Center in Derry, in separate rooms and unable to see their children. But finally, after it was clear that their battle was coming to an end, their loved ones were invited to pay their last respects. Adorned in protective hospital garb, Noke was one of the family members to say goodbye.
The hospital wheeled the married couple into the same room, and placed both beds side-by-side. Carol’s hand was then placed into her husband’s hand. Bill was the first to take his last breath, then moments later, Carol took hers.
“They were the true definition of soulmates because it’s like having love birds. You can’t just buy one: you’ve got to buy both,” Noke told WBUR.
Noke, who also tested positive for the virus, is planning to get vaccinated and is urging others to do the same.
“I just want people to get vaccinated because you never know what tomorrow is going to bring,” she told the Globe. “We want to spread the story as much as possible about their love story, and what happened to them.”
The family has also set up a GoFundMe to help pay for expenses incurred from her parents’ illness and passing.
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