Married Couple of 44 Years Dies of COVID While Holding Hands: 'True Definition of Soulmates'
A couple from New Hampshire who contracted COVID-19 during the holidays died within moments of each other while holding hands.
According to a GoFundMe set up by their family, William and Carol Stewart died on Dec. 30 after a battle with COVID-19 that "took a turn for the worse" while the couple was hospitalized at Parkland Medical Center.
"Bill and Carol peacefully passed away hand in hand with their loved ones bedside," their nephew, Tim Stewart, wrote on the campaign page. "They fought a long and hard battle with covid, both intubated and on life support."
"I truly believe that the power of prayers and all the kind words that have been shared over the past few weeks is what kept them fighting," he added. "It also kept us hopeful for the best. We sincerely thank you all from the bottom of our hearts. We never really have enough time with our loved ones."
"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," their daughter, Melissa Noke, told WMUR.
Noke recalled to the news station that the night of their deaths, the hospital moved them into a shared room where they spent their last moments together.
"Placed both beds side-by-side, placing my mother's hand into my father's hand," she said. "As soon as they touched hands, my father took his last breath, and then my mother 10 seconds later."
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Eight members of the family tested positive for COVID-19, Noke said, and her parents were unvaccinated against the virus. She hopes people who haven't received the shots yet do so.
The U.S. has seen a dramatic rise in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks, spurred on by the omicron variant. According to the New York Times, the country is averaging more than 547,000 news cases every day for the week ending Jan. 4.
As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from the CDC, WHO and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.