Just weeks after getting the news that she was beating breast cancer, 42-year-old Sundee Rutter found herself saying goodbye to her six children before tragically dying of coronavirus.
As is the case for so many loved ones torn apart and isolated by this disease, Rutter’s kids found themselves telling their ailing mother goodbye from the other side of a cold hospital window.
The children, ranging in age from 13 to 24, were losing yet another parent only eight years after their dad passed away.
Since an in-person farewell was out of the question for risk of spreading the virus, the hospital found an innovative way to allow the kids to say their final words.
“They took a walkie-talkie, and they placed it right by her bedside, on the pillow,” her 20-year-old son Elijah Ross-Rutter told CNN. “We got to say our final words and goodbyes to our mom.”
“I was able to tell her I loved her. It’s kind of hard, in the moment you really don’t know what you’re gonna say,” he continued. “It’s your last words. It’s a moment that nobody ever wants to be in.”
Elijah says he made a promise to his mother that the older siblings were going to make sure their younger brothers and sisters were taken care of and raised to be adults that would make her proud.
“I told her everything is gonna be alright with the kids,” said Elijah. “Us older siblings, we’re gonna make sure everything’s okay with them and that they’re gonna grow up to be some adults that our mom would want them to be.”
Elijah’s 24-year-old brother plans to get custody of the younger siblings, and they hope to all stay together in the same house.
Sundee’s sudden passing came at a time when Elijah says they ‘were just starting to feel whole again.’
After a hard-fought battle with breast cancer, Sundee was told she was in remission in January. The 42-year-old mother of six fell ill on March 2nd, when she got a migraine and began to feel weak and short of breath. Just two weeks later, she lost her fight to COVID-19. Sandee died on March 16 at Providence Hospital in Everett, Washington.
“She fought valiantly until she could not fight any more,” a GoFundMe page set up for the family reads.
“This has not been an easy road for these kids,” the page continued. “They have been through a lot in the past several years. Sundee was an absolutely amazing mom and instilled only the utmost of values in her children. I have never known a group of siblings who stick together and take care of one another as much as these kids do.”
So far, the GoFundMe has raised over $400,000 of its $500,000 goal. If you would like to support the Rutters during this difficult time, you may donate here.
Please join us in keeping these precious children in your thoughts and prayers.