Life is more complicated for a lot of us since the pandemic and we’re the lucky ones. There are ways to make the best out of a bad situation and Dennis Cockrell and his family are certainly doing that.
Dennis’ wife, Diana Cockrell, is going through chemotherapy for her breast cancer at Bon Secours St. Francis Cancer Treatment Center in Greenville, South Carolina and Dennis had promised to be with her every step of the way.
Due to the Covid-19 restrictions, however, only patients were allowed in the hospital and Dennis was forced to let his wife go in alone. Yet, that didn’t stop him from being there for his wife.
“Only patients were allowed in which was tough because I didn’t want her to feel alone,” Cockrell said. “But it’s the day we live in and I just tried to make the best of it.”
Dennis and the couple’s kids – Collier, Kate, and Carly – hatched an ingenious plan to still give Diana the moral support she needed.
The four of them made paper signs that spelled out “IM HERE & I [HEART] YOU”, placed them in front of the window of Diana’s room, and Dennis sat in a lawn chair in the middle of the sentence. Once they were done, Dennis texted his wife to look outside and she couldn’t believe her eyes when she did.
“She texted me she was in a windowed room in front of a grassy clearing so I knew she could see outside,” Dennis Cockrell said. “I thought I could sit in a lawn chair out there and we could still see each other.”
Diana was understandably very grateful for her husband’s support.
“All the sudden I didn’t feel so alone in the hospital room by myself,” she said. “It was such a pleasant surprise; he’s been the most wonderful supporter and he’s made it all very bearable.”
To make this story even more heartwarming, it’s sweet to know that the Cockrells have been together for quite some time. 23 years, to be precise. Diana was diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2019 and Dennis has been as supportive from Day 1 during all her trials.
“He’s seen me at my very worst but he’s always shown me invincible love,” Diana said.
She didn’t just text a “thank you” to her husband either – with the help of a few of the nurses in the hospital, Diana wrote her own message back on three sheets of paper and taped it on her window. It spelled the short but sweet “I [HEART] U”.
Of course, Dennis could have just stayed with his wife via FaceTime or some other app as most people would have done. For him, besides being with her in person, “this was the next best thing.”
“There is a feeling of being with someone that can’t be replaced,” Dennis said. “This felt more like being in the room with her than a FaceTime somehow so it was something I had to do.”
“It was a good day,” he added.
Dennis and Diana aren’t the only ones forced to look for innovative ways to support each other during the pandemic, of course. Countless people are stuck alone in hospitals, either with the Covid-19 virus itself or with other health problems.
Husband and wife Albert and Kelly Conner have also found themselves in a similar situation to the Cockrell family. Kelly was stuck alone in the hospital while going through her chemotherapy and Albert couldn’t be at her side. Like Dennis, Albert decided to wait outside of his wife’s window, however, and he fashioned his own sign – “I CAN’T BE WITH YOU BUT I’M HERE [HEART] YOU!” with the added “Thank you to all staff!!!”
“I didn’t feel right not being a part of it because I had promised her that I would be there every step of the way and I felt like I would be breaking my word,” Albert said. “I just got a poster board and our kids and I colored it.”
Kelly Conner was lucky to at least have a first-floor room with a window staring at the street so she had a clear and close view to her husband as he waited for her in the rain.
We can all hope to have such loving and supportive partners in our lives. But what’s also important is to make sure that this crisis passes as quickly as possible and never reappears.