Thomas Martins and Carolyn Martins-Reitz were an inseparable duo – even in death.
Just nine days after Thomas lost his mother to the novel coronavirus, which he also contracted, the young man from New Jersey lost his battle on his 30th birthday, PEOPLE reported.
Rudy Reits, Thomas’ stepfather, said his late wife dedicated her life to looking after her son who had Down syndrome. “They were each other’s whole world,” he said.
“Her entire life revolved around making sure that Thomas was healthy, loved, and stayed active.”
The 55-year-old mother was hospitalised on 23 March after her condition worsened. It was difficult for Thomas to deal with before he too was hospitalised only days later.
“I could see he was hurting, and I’d ask him, and he’d say, ‘I fine, I fine,’” Rudy explained, “That broke my heart.”
Sadly, Carolyn took her last breath five days after admission.
The devastated husband further revealed that before her passing, Carolyn was so sick that she never knew her son was admitted to hospital as well. “And Thomas was never aware that his mother passed away.”
Speaking to Buzzfeed News, Rudy said that every year his stepson looked forward to celebrating his birthday on 6 April.
“Even when I was with him in the hospital, he was asking about his birthday, and I told him, ‘Don’t worry. We’ll fix you up. We’ll get out of here and you’ll have your birthday’”, he recalled.
When his special day arrived, Thomas was surprised with a heartwarming celebration that included pizza and cake that was shared with the hospital staff as well as a video call from his friends.
“He passed away not long after that,” Rudy said.
“So one of the last things his subconscious got to hear was people singing him ‘Happy Birthday.’”
Thomas and Carolyn haven’t only left behind Rudy but also his half-sister, Sharon (22) who’s still struggling to come to terms with their deaths.
Prior to Thomas’ death, the Reitz family set up a GoFundMe page to assist with his medical bills and burial preparations for Carolyn.