James C. Campbell. - Gone but not forgotten online


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James C. Campbell.

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James C. Campbell lay in his Houston hospital bed all alone. Despite having a huge family — a loving wife, five children, and a combined 34 grandchildren and great-grandchildren — none of them could sit vigil by the 88-year-old’s bedside as he was dying from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. On March 26, his family called the nurse working the night shift at Baylor St. Luke's Medical Center. James C. had been intubated when he was admitted three days prior. He wasn’t conscious. They thought it was going to be his last night alive. “Because he was struggling, we had been trying to get the hospital to perhaps take an iPad into the COVID unit and just point it at my dad...so we could pray with him,” his son, James T. Campbell, told BuzzFeed News. “This nurse basically said, ‘I can’t really do that. I can’t even take my phone in there.’” That’s when the nurse made an offer. “Let me have the names of his children,” James T. recalled her saying, “and I’m gonna go pray with him and use your names to do that.” The nurse, Jennifer Holton, 22, said the prayer with James C. was an especially intimate one. She recounted the moment to BuzzFeed News in a phone interview on Thursday following four consecutive night shifts and the day she was supposed to get married. “I talked to his family, and they were missing him and praying for him,” Holton said. “I just said, ‘OK, give me names. Give names of every family member, and I’ll go in there and pray with him and let him know y’all are thinking of him and missing him.’” “[Then] I just went up to him, held his hand, and just spoke to him,” she said. “He wasn’t awake, but hearing, they say, is one of the last things to go.” James C. lived five more days, dying on March 31