Sundee Rutter was recovering from breast cancer. The single mother of six, from Everett, Washington, USA, had battled the disease for years – and won. At the beginning of March, however, the 42-year-old suddenly felt bad.
“She was exhausted, had difficulty breathing and had a headache,” says Ruth’s son Elijah Ross-Rutter (20) on CNN. The woman was sent home again in the hospital, initially thinking of an ordinary flu. But Ruth’s condition deteriorated and she had to go back to the hospital. Covid-19 was diagnosed there earlier last month.
«Difficult to understand how she got infected»
“It was difficult for us to understand how she could have been infected because not so many people here had the disease,” said son Elijah. At that time there were only 27 reported infections and nine deaths in the state, now thousands have contracted the virus there.
First, the six children between the ages of 13 and 24 were allowed to visit the patient with face masks, later she was isolated and the children could only see the mother through a pane. Initially, she was able to send text messages, later only emojis, as 20-year-old Elijah tells. “She sent my heart to the news, but she stopped responding.”
Farewell through the walkie-talkie
It was soon clear that Rutter would lose the fight against the virus. That day, their children gathered in front of the hospital room. “The nurses gave us a walkie-talkie and put one on her on the pillow,” said Elijah. “We looked through the window and said goodbye to her.”
He could still tell her that he loved her. «It’s kind of difficult. At this moment you don’t know what to say. » The older siblings promised the dying that they would take care of the younger ones and that “they would grow up to be the adults the mother would want.”
On March 16, Sundee Rutter succumbed to the disease. The six children who had lost their father years ago are now orphans.
Tyree Ross-Rutter (24), the oldest, now wants to take custody of the younger siblings at the ages of 13, 14 and 15 years. He is certain of support: on a “Gofundme” website, almost half a million dollars have been donated for the maintenance and future of the siblings.