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'Happily ever after' is taken from Oro Valley couple by COVID-19

Posted at 9:01 PM, Jul 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-14 03:01:56-04

TUCSON, Ariz. — They say a picture is worth a thousand words and now they tell the story of Lori and Dale Elkins before coronavirus tore apart their happily ever after.

“I’m sitting here looking at a picture of him as I talk to you. I mean, he will always be in my heart will never be with me again,” explained Lori Elkins.

Dale, a navy veteran, lost his life to COVID-19 on May 20, just as he thought he was getting his second chance at life.

“It was taking a little longer than we expected to get a transplant in Tucson and we went to see his primary doctor and he says if you have to wait three months you're not going to be here,” she explained.

He and his wife traveled across the country, to Temple University for what they thought would be a life-saving liver transplant.

Lori said the surgery, from finding the surgeon to the results, were right out of a storybook.

“His eyes were always yellow. After his surgery, he had white eyes his skin was a good color. He was coming back he was starting to walk he was exercising with a bicycle. And then [COVID-19] just shut the whole thing down," she described.

Lori and Dale were together for four years. They met online, fell in love, and retired together in Oro Valley.

“Everything was on the fast track. Everything was all set for our happily ever after,” said Lori.

Dale spent 24 days battling the virus once he contracted it.

“He was in a coma for the last eight days of his life. They had drunk a drug-induced coma. When they re incubated him he had been intubated-- that was his third time,” said Lori.

Lori and his loved ones buried him in Marana on June 1st.

“I mean you never ever ever want to have to go through this, but they did an awesome job, and there was a video tribute where I gave them 100 pictures and picked out like five of our favorite songs, and I still watch that because that was a celebration of life. That wasn't the death. That was the living that we did together. That was just too short," she said.

Now, she holds the memories close and reminds the community that COVID-19 is very real.

“[COVID-19] is unfortunately as real as it gets. It totally destroyed my life. We had so many hopes and dreams for the future,” said Lori.