By CBSLA Staff

ORANGE COUNTY (CBSLA) – An Orange County woman is pleading with the public to get vaccinated after her otherwise healthy husband died from COVID-19.

Ashley Richards said her 46-year-old husband’s last words to his nurses before he was put on a ventilator was that he wished he had gotten the coronavirus vaccine. Rolf Vetter died 23 days after being admitted to the hospital.

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Her husband of 10 years suffered two strokes and organ failure after contracting the Delta Variant, Richards said. She added he was 6-foot 9-inches and had no pre-existing conditions.

“They told me that he said he wished he had gotten the vaccine,” said Richards. “What haunts me most is not knowing how scared he was. I am sure that he thought about how he may never wake up, and he didn’t.”

Richards wrote a letter and posted it to social media urging people to get vaccinated.

Hospitalizations for COVID-19 accelerated again Thursday in Orange County as the more contagious Delta variant rampages through unvaccinated residents.

Hospitalizations due to the virus increased from 375 on Wednesday to 409 on Thursday, with the number of intensive care unit patients increasing from 68 to 69. The county had 20.2% of its intensive care unit beds available and 74% of its ventilators.

Richards’ full letter is here:

A Letter to the Unvaccinated,

After 23 days in the hospital and 22 days on a ventilator in a coma, my unvaccinated husband has died of Covid-19.

We thought we were invincible. Our thoughts were that we were young and healthy and that if the virus reached us we would be sick for a bit and we’d move on with our lives.

We waited and waited. We’d made it through 2020 taking precautions. We weren’t perfect all the time, but we never tested positive. We never even came close to being exposed. We believed in our own immune systems and stubbornly ignored warnings as we refused to be told what to do with our own bodies.

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“We’ll get it when we have to,” we said. “If we haven’t gotten the virus yet, we probably never will.” “There were only 11 cases reported in Orange County today.” “Seems like things are getting back to normal.” “Maybe we’ll get it soon, but it looks like we might not have to.”

I have been to the hospital every day since the 4th of July. Before my eyes, my young, healthy, strong, tall, brave, and intelligent husband had been destroyed by Covid-19. It took over his lungs, demolished his kidneys, and caused blood clots resulting in a severe stroke. His heart ultimately gave out.

His heart has loved me for over a decade.

I watched my Love, a name I’ve called him for ten years, battle as the virus continued to wreak havoc on his body. There was nothing I can do but I stand there watching him as doctors used phrases like, “multiple organ failure”, “potentially poor quality of life”, and “this will take weeks, if not months if he is going to make it”.

I was prepared for months of watching my Love as his bed sores grow, as tubes helped him breathe and feed him and medicate him. Months of listening to doctors and nurses state horrible facts about his condition. Months of my heart breaking every second of every day.

“Will I ever get my Love back? Who is the man that will come back to me?” I was constantly thinking.

I walk around our home as I am abruptly alone in it. Evidence of our travels, our life together, his appreciation for art, adventure, life… it’s everywhere. It’s unbelievable that we can go from swimming with sharks to him being in critical condition in a hospital bed in what seemingly was an instant.

I close my eyes and all I see is him in a hospital bed, comatose, with machines doing for him what he was so strongly doing himself a month ago. The weight of the sorrow of every day is unbearable.

There is no way for you to prepare for this horrendous reality. There is no way for you to actually understand the pain of what was our everyday life and now my loss.

But there is a way you can prevent it. And there is a way that you can save others from this pain. Stop being casual about the vaccine and just go do it already. I know your fears, I had them too, but this is the greatest nightmare of my life.

And if that doesn’t convince you, just know that one of my husband’s last statements before he was put into a coma was that he regretted that he didn’t get the vaccine.

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Save a life. Save a spouse. Save a son. Save a friend.