"I keep thinking in my head, there’s going to be a time where I’ve been without my husband longer than I’ve been with him, and it hurts a lot," said Katie Coelho

By Maria Pasquini
April 25, 2020 11:15 AM
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Anderson Cooper was filled with emotion while speaking with Katie Coelho, whose 32-year-old husband Jonathan died this week of coronavirus — and left a heartbreaking note for his family before going into cardiac arrest.

It’s very surreal,” Katie told the CNN anchor, 52, on Friday. “I keep thinking in my head, there’s going to be a time where I’ve been without my husband longer than I’ve been with him, and it hurts a lot.”

Although Katie and their 10-month-old daughter Penelope and 2-year-old son Braedyn were able to occasionally FaceTime with Jonathan during his time in the hospital, the night before his death — when he was in the process of being weaned off a ventilator — she decided to let him rest instead.

“I asked if I should FaceTime him or let him rest, and [the nurse] said, ‘You know what, why don’t we let him rest and I’ll tell him you called, and if he wakes up, I’ll call you,’ ” she said.

However, instead of getting a call from her husband of seven years, shortly after 2:00 a.m on Wednesday, she received a call from the hospital. “Before I even answered it, I just said, ‘Oh, God,’ ” Katie tearfully told Cooper.

Anderson Cooper and Katie Coelho
Anderson Cooper/Twitter

Cooper went on to address the emotional note Jonathan left on his phone, which was filled with love and pride for his wife and children.

“He wrote a note,” an emotional Cooper began, pausing to gather himself. “Part of it reads, ‘I love you guys with all my heart and you’ve given me the best life I could have ever asked for.' ”

“Jonathan’s good with his words, huh?” Katie said with a laugh, before sharing that their friends and family are helping her get through this difficult time — although since her two children have also tested positive for COVID-19, they have to wear masks and gloves.

Katie, who has not been tested, tearfully said, “They’ve just helped with the kids greatly because the last two days have been really hard and I’m really trying, but I don’t think I’m going as good of a job as I wish I could be.”

Coelho family
Gofundme

As their children are both so young, Katie explained that their lack of comprehension around what’s happened is a “double-edged sword.”

“I’m glad that they’re so happy and they’re loving and getting played with and I think it’s so much fun, but it’s also — they don’t know that they have lost the greatest human being, and they’ll only ever know their dad through pictures and memories and videos and this note, and to me I feel like that’s the worst part of it,” she said. “They’ll know about it, but they won’t be able to say I remember feeling that.”

“My husband for my birthday this year made me a photo blanket and my daughter every night, unprompted, crawls over to her dad’s picture and just starts hitting it because she just likes his picture,” she said, adding that their son, who has been diagnosed with a number of health issues including cerebral palsy, was able to pass a touching message to his father, just hours before his death.

Coelho family
Gofundme

With the use of a communication device, Katie filmed a video of their son hitting a button that said, “My dad’s my best friend.”

“That’s the last video the nurse showed my husband before he went into cardiac arrest,” she said.

“To say I’m so sorry for your loss feels so small, but I think there are a lot of people who are praying for you and thinking of you and whose hearts are breaking with you,” said Cooper. “I wish you peace and strength in the days ahead.”

Jonathan, who was a two-time cancer survivor, tested positive for COVID-19 on March 26. He had been in remission for nearly 20 years, a GoFundMe campaign organizer previously told PEOPLE, adding that doctors told the family they didn't expect it to cause complications.

Just over a week after he was admitted to the hospital, he was placed on a ventilator, and he died on Wednesday after going into cardiac arrest.

In a GoFundMe campaign update later that day, Katie shared the loving note she found on his phone, where he wrote that he felt so lucky and “proud to be your husband and the father to Braedyn and Penny."

"Let Braedyn know he’s my best bud and I’m proud to be his father and for all the amazing things he’s done and continues to do," he added in a heartbreaking message to his children. "Let Penelope know she’s a princess and can have whatever she wants in life."

As of April 25, the GoFundMe page has raised $585,184.

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 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.