Son Shares the Heartbreaking Moment Husband and Wife on Life Support Say Goodbye: 'They Got to Be Together Until the End'
"I'm so lucky to have parents that card so much for each other," Chris Mininni tells PEOPLE
A husband who went into the hospital just one day before his wife got to say goodbye and hold her hand just one last time before he died – and the touching moment was captured by their son.
Christopher Mininni, 21, didn’t think things could get much worse when his father, Jim, was admitted to the ICU on April 28. However, the very next day, his mother Cindy suddenly had a heart attack and was taken to the hospital and put on life support.
Both at different hospitals, Chris spent the next few days running back and forth and anxiously waiting for both of their prognosis.
“It was frightening,” he tells PEOPLE. “I didn’t know what to do. It was the worst thing ever.”
The Final Goodbye
But when his mom was transferred to the same hospital, Kingston General Hospital in Ontario, Canada, on May 3, he was able to take a photograph of them together before his father died just a few hours later.
Jim, who had battled lung cancer three times over the last eight years, had a do-not-resuscitate order, and while at the hospital pulled out his breathing tube in the middle of a bad dream.
“He said, ‘If you can’t save me, don’t prolong my life,’ ” Chris recalls. “Because of his own wishes we couldn’t put it back in.”
The doctors told Chris “there was nothing we can do for your dad” and that “he’ll go for as long as he can go.”
Throughout his ordeal, Cindy remained sedated in a room next to her husband.
“We told him that mom was now here,” he says. “He started freaking out. But when we told him he wasn’t going to make it, he got out a pen and paper and tried to write because he wasn’t able to speak.”
Jim was only able to scribble the letters “M” and “O.”
“We didn’t know what was he trying to say,” says Chris. “We thought he was trying to write mouth because it was very frustrating to him that he couldn’t speak.”
But he was then finally able to write out a word that shocked them all – “mom.”
For the first time in the hospital’s history, they put two patients – one just off of life support and the other still on it – in the same room.
“It was very risky,” he says. “But they did it for them.”
When the doctors told Jim that he’d be able to see her, “he started bawling and saying thank you by doing the praying motion” and grabbed the doctors hand as hard as he could.
He was wheeled into Cindy’s room and although she was sedated, Jim got to say goodbye.
“When she woke up a few days later, the first thing she said was, ‘Is dad dead?’ ” says Chris.
As Cindy, who was on life support for 11 days, grieves for her husbands who she was married to for 24 years, Chris says she finds comfort in knowing they got to be together one last time before he died.
“The one thing that incapsulates my dad in this lifetime is that he loved my mother with all of his being,” he says. “That’s why I love that photo so much – I feel like it shows it.”
Cindy, who is now making a full recovery, has no recollection of the moment, but Jim was able to hold her hand and cry.
“I wanted to show my mom when she got out of the hospital that dad was with her almost until his very last breath,” he says. “She wasn’t able to witness the power and love he was showing her.”
Chris says his parents were inseparable ever since they met and both “were fun-loving” people.
After Chris took the photo, he shared it on Reddit and has received “beautiful comments from people all around the world.”
He says it “warms his mother’s” heart to hear the responses they’ve received as well.
“I want people to see how much love they had for each other,” he says. “My parents got to be together until the end. We should all be so lucky.”