HOUSTON - She calls him “Poppy”.
He calls her “my favorite wife.”
“I’ve been with him so long. He’s like my other skin,” said Christal Mercier of her husband Adriel.
Theirs is a love story stretching the better part of four decades – a life together quite nearly cut short by a silent, un-seeable killer.
“I went to the doctor. They misdiagnosed me. I just never got any better,” said Christal.
For Christal and Adriel, grandparents of 10, great-grand parents of two, the first week of April brought with it, the onset of suffering.
“Poppy would not leave my side. He stayed right there and that was before we knew I had the virus,” said Christal.
Bound for “better or worse” the viral leap from spouse to spouse was a near certainty. By April 7th, Christal was hospitalized with pneumonia just as her beloved Poppy was beginning to feel the same symptoms.
“If it wasn’t for them getting on my case saying you need to go, I might not be here, because I was going to wait, you know because I thought it was like a flu bug,” said Adriel.
“He would be dead,” chimed in his “better half”.
It was Covid-19, soon to push Adriel Mercier to the very brink.
“They came in and put me on the stretcher and put me in the ambulance and after that I don’t remember nothing,” said Adriel.
‘He has no idea how many tears I cried for him because he was dying and I knew it. I was too,” said Christal, her voice cracking with emotion.
Within St. Luke’s Hospital, husband and wife remained apart, Christal struggling to breath. Her Poppy, in the ICU, attached to a ventilator.
“I told the Doctor. I just need to see him, because you can’t be with him. He couldn’t talk,’ said Christal.
Compassionate caregivers opened a heartrending line of communication via FaceTime.
“You’re still in ICU and you are on a ventilator and I need you to fight! I don’t want to leave you. I love you Poppy, please fight. I am going to wait for you to come home,” pleaded Christal from her own hospital bed.
And soon after, slowly, mercifully, the tide for Adriel Mercier, would turn.
“I’ve been through the valley of the shadow of death,” he says now.
“I am just thankful to God because I know he healed us. I know he did without a doubt and if I am being cry baby I am just so full. I’m just thankful,” said Christal from the couple’s Missouri City home.
Together and happy to have more days ahead, the Merciers hope the near loss of their lives will serve as warning to those who fail to heed the call for precaution.
“If there is anything we can do to prevent this thing from tearing us apart and killing us, let’s do it,” urged Adriel.
“I don’t wish this on anybody and the thing is, people need to take this serious because they think it is a game! You have to cover. Children can get it. Our Grandchildren got it,” said Christal who confirmed six members of the family tested positive.
Their survival, deeply tinged with sadness for those who did not, brings with it renewed appreciation for the simplest gifts of living.
“At the end of the day, it’s all about love, because love conquers all,” said Adriel.
“I don’t take anything for granted. I thank God that he wakes me up in my right mind, that I can walk, talk, see, hear, taste, feel and smell,” said Christal.
They are the lucky ones and they know it.