I spoke to Boris Johnson about the death of my husband by Covid and did not see an ounce of compassion | Francois Hall
On Saturday September 26, 2020, I married Steve, my companion for 11 years. It was a small gathering sandwiched between the spring and fall closings, with only two witnesses at the registry office. We put a marquee outside the house so that later in the evening we could celebrate with our families and friends. It was cold, but the champagne helped. Only three weeks later Steve died of Covid. We never imagined that while we were mourning, Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak, who received fixed penalty notices today, would be carelessly breaking their own lockdown rules.
My husband was larger than life and drew people to him. He was a retired Metropolitan Police sergeant who had trained hundreds of police officers in advanced high-speed driving. He was a magic driver who could reverse at high speed and roll a cigarette at the same time.
We had decided to get married when Steve was diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer. We knew we didn’t have long, but he was strong and full of life and we were determined to spend his last days together. I promised not to leave him.
In the days following the wedding, her health began to decline. After eight days I called an ambulance and when it came to taking him away I thought I would never see him again. In fact, I would see him once again when they took him off the Cpap machine, because then there was nothing left for him to do.
Steve was vulnerable to the virus because his lungs had already been damaged. In 2012, our apartment caught fire and Steve tried unsuccessfully to put it out. He ran outside for some fresh air, but the door slammed behind him, leaving me inside. He kicked down that door and saved my life, but in the process he inhaled smoke that would scar his lungs.
Due to his medical history, we were told emphatically that he was not a candidate for ventilation. Steve learned this news alone in his hospital room. I had promised him when we discovered the cancer that I would be by his side until the end, and I had to break that promise. This was the hardest part for me. He died the day before his 66th birthday, October 18.
I planned the funeral for the anniversary of the day we survived the fire, November 3, a date we would have come to consider our common anniversary. The funeral was beautiful, but nowhere was it as important as it could have been. We were only allowed 30 people in a building that held 100, and many friends had to stand outside. After the coffin was lowered into the grave, I sat in my home with my children and grandchildren, but we were unable to celebrate his life with others. We did the right thing, we did what millions have done to stop the virus from spreading – I wouldn’t wish Covid on my worst enemy. We didn’t do what the government people were doing.
I was one of the people invited to go to Downing Street to meet the Prime Minister last year as part of the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice support group. We were given a few minutes to talk about the people we had lost. I’ve told my story to so many people, and it’s so shocking that it never fails to affect people, but I couldn’t see any glimmer of compassion or pain behind Boris Johnson‘s eyes.
Finally, we know he was breaking his own social distancing rules, but I’m not surprised. If he was an honest man, he would have quit a long time ago. He made decisions that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. There were so many moments where we could have acted sooner – on PPE, on masks, on social distancing. The same goes for Sunak; he knew the pandemic wasn’t over when he encouraged people to eat out and mingle in the summer of 2020, leading to the wave of infections that would take my husband away. He chose the economy over people’s lives. Losing someone you love is horrible under any circumstances, but losing someone in circumstances you know could have been avoided is unthinkable.
For some reason, these politicians and advisers thought themselves untouchable by the virus and public opinion. The least they can do now is acknowledge that people are still dying, still developing long Covid, and doing something to ensure no life is taken too soon.