Wife mourns the loss of her husband who battled impacts of COVID for more than 570 days

IOLA, Kan. (KCTV/Gray News) – Roger Collins fought for more than a year and a half hoping to go home from the hospital, battling COVID-19 and the toll it took on his body.

His wife, Billie Collins, waited by Roger’s hospital window at the start of the pandemic, when COVID-19 protocols prevented visitors from entering hospitals.

Last February, the coupled cheered for the Chiefs in the Super Bowl, separated by a glass window.

It’s difficult for Billie to look back on the beginning of their COVID-19 battle.

“He leaned over, and he said, ‘Hug me because I don’t know when you’re going to hug me again,’” Billie Collins told KCTV, recalling the day Roger was flown via LifeFlight to the hospital.

Hugs eventually came. Roger Collins shared an extra special hug with his granddaughter when family members brought her to his hospital room.

“He got to hug her and that was huge,” Billie Collins said.

Roger shared an extra special hug with his granddaughter when family members brought her to his hospital room.(Billie Collins via KCTV)

KCTV spoke with Roger Collins from his hospital room on Jan. 26. He and Billie had moved from Kansas to Texas for ongoing treatments.

He said he was working hard during physical therapy and couldn’t wait to be back home with his family. He celebrated his birthday on Feb. 1 in his hospital room.

Days later, Roger Collins felt very ill. He received dialysis treatments several days in a row.

“He was tired. He was so tired. He worked so hard,” Billie Collins said. “He just looked up at me and he touched the side of my face and he said, ‘I’m sure going to miss you.’ And I said, ‘I’ll miss you too, but I’ll see you tomorrow.’”

Doctors and nurses called Billie Collins to Roger’s bedside that night. She held his hand in hers until he let go.

Billie Collins held her husband's hand until his heart stopped.Billie Collins held her husband’s hand until his heart stopped.(Billie Collins via KCTV)

“I think his mindset was ‘I want to win,’ but I think his body just finally said, ‘It’s time to go,’” Billie Collins said. “His heart just stopped.”

Though she is heartbroken, she said her heart is soaring because Roger is no longer in pain.

“For me, I know he’s at peace,” she said. “I know that. I just have to believe that there’s a reason and there’s a purpose and that God brought us on this journey for a reason.”

Along their more than 18-month journey, Billie Collins said their small town of Iola, Kansas, supported them every step of the way.

“I never had to focus on anything but Roger, and Roger never had to focus on anything but getting better.”

Billie Collins said she feels blessed to call Roger her husband, her children’s father but more importantly her best friend.

“Oh, [he’s] 100% my person. He was and always will be the love of my life,” she said. “I am broken, but I am whole because I know — even though it wasn’t my plan for the end of this journey — I know God’s plan was played out.”

Billie Collins said their three children worked tirelessly to make their dad proud during his journey to get well. She believes Roger’s strength inspired them to each accomplish important achievements in each of their lives.

“I know, when he went to heaven, I know that he is so proud,” Billie Collins said.

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