They were approaching their eighth anniversary. But for Claudette and Leonard Himes, that milestone might never come. On March 16th, Claudette began to suffer from a fever that hit 102-degrees and wouldn't come down even with medication. Then the 63-year-old accountant began to have trouble breathing. That's when Leonard rushed her to the hospital.
Claudette tested positive for COVID-19, and her case was a bad one.
Leonard and Claudette Himes told CBN News about her miraculous healing (photo used by permission)
Claudette's life was now in danger. Doctors decided to move her to ICU and place her on a ventilator to help her breathe. Leonard would not be allowed to be in there to pray with her and encourage her. But before they moved Claudette, he told Fox 5-News that he quickly said a prayer.
"I prayed with her, and I said I loved her, and I said we're going to trust in the Lord and Savior to heal you," he remembers.
Leonard would not see Claudette again for 18 days. But the couple says it was that bond of faith in Jesus Christ that got them through those days. They had met at church years before. And Leonard now served as an associate pastor at Beulah Missionary Baptist Church in nearby Decatur. Serving God and serving others was their life together. Now their faith was being tested.
"He tells me the stories of how bad it was, what I went through," Claudette says. "It was mind-blowing."
Eleven days passed and Claudette was not getting any better. In fact, she was getting much worse.
Leonard Is Advised to Say Goodbye
Leonard tells CBN News that at that point, he got devastating news. The doctor told him that Claudette's lungs were full of pneumonia and that it was time for him to meet with palliative care to discuss last decisions and essentially talk about "when you want to unplug this."
That night, he asked the ICU nurse and the chaplain to set up a baby monitor by Claudette's bed so he could talk to her. For all he knew, it might be his last chance to do so. She was unconscious, but he sensed she could hear him. He read Psalm 91 to her like he'd done many times since she first got sick.
"I was able to read to her, and pray for her, and just let her know it was going to be okay," Himes says.
FOR CBN NEWS CONTINUING COVERAGE ON COVID-19, CLICK HERE.
Calling on God for a Miracle
Back at home that evening, Leonard was brokenhearted. He told CBN News he didn't sleep at all that night. "I prayed through the night, weeping and calling on God."
He says as he saw the sun come up that morning that he somehow felt peace. "I didn't know if that peace meant my wife was going to be with Him, or that God was going to do something. But I had peace."
A Persistent Phone Call
Later that morning, Leonard was at home on the phone, actually in a conference call with the palliative care medical team and other family members when he began to get another call from his wife's phone that had been left at the hospital. He dismissed it and kept on with the conference call. But whoever was calling was persistent and called three times. He couldn't imagine what it could be. Surely, if something had happened to Claudette, her doctors that he already was talking to would know what was going on.
At that point, he told his sister-in-law to call Claudette's phone. A nurse answered and gave Claudette's sister some amazing news. Suddenly, his sister-in-law came rushing into the room with the nurse on the phone.
"And she came running in there and saying, 'Claudette was sitting up in bed, extubated, and breathing on her own.'"
'You've Received a Miracle'
The medical team still on the conference call was silent as they heard Leonard shout and praise God that Claudette was healed.
Finally, one of the doctors still on the phone said, "Leonard, it looks like you've received a miracle."
A few days later, surrounded by her nurses, Claudette celebrated her 63rd birthday.
"Can you imagine having a birthday and someone telling you that you might not have made it," she says. "And to breathe God's air? Oh, my God, I'm just blessed."
Claudette came home on April 3rd. Still testing positive for the virus, no rehab center would take her. So Leonard, dressed in protective gear, helped her at home with therapeutic exercises to rebuild her strength. She's doing well now, Leonard says, almost back to 100%.
The Man in White and the Miracle
Once she was at home, Leonard made the decision not to tell Claudette all the details right away of how sick she'd been, and that there'd been a discussion of palliative care. He wanted to wait until she was stronger.
Then, about ten days after she came home, Leonard decided it was time to tell her. He told her how dire her condition had been. And then Claudette told him something she experienced that has them both still in awe.
"Claudette told me there was a man in the room in a white coat," Leonard recalls.
It's all still fuzzy to Claudette. She's not really sure when it happened. She told CBN News, "I don't know the exact order of when I saw the man in the white coat, if I was still asleep or waking up, or if it was after. But the machines in the room were going off. I thought the man was there to turn them off. I do remember he asked me if I would be made whole."
A nurse came into the room. The man in the white coat was gone. Claudette assumed he was a doctor. But there was a strange detail that Claudette remembers about him that makes her question that now. Something quite unheard of when dealing with COVID-19 patients. "He was not wearing any protective clothing," she says.
They don't understand it. They can't explain it. Claudette's doctor told them there's no way medically to explain what happened. But Leonard says while he was on the phone talking about death, that was the very moment life and healing came back to Claudette. Leonard and Claudette believe God answered their prayers with nothing short of a miracle.