Lifestyle & Human Interest

Heartbreaking: Widower Finds Goodbye Video on Late Wife's Phone


The last few months have been devastating for many people. With so much fallout from the pandemic in so many areas, it’s been hard for some to keep their heads above water.

One Texas family was left reeling after the loss of a young wife and mother — not from the coronavirus but from ulcerative colitis, perhaps exacerbated because of the current climate.

According to a GoFundMe set up for the family, Stephani Wagoner was diagnosed with the disease when she was 15.

“This was the first curveball that was handed to her,” the page reads. “UC is a autoimmune disorder that is triggered by stress. When someone with UC gets a Flare up the best way to describe it – its ulcers but in your colon. Ulcers could be a few or a few hundred of them. Diarrhea and the ulcer bust as cause bleeding and extreme amount of pain.”

The page also listed several stressful factors that befell the family as COVID-19 spread. Husband Bradley Wagoner lost his job, and the couple lost their insurance. The landlord threatened to evict the family, which included Bradley, Stephani and their three children, ages 6, 4 and 3.

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According to the page, Stephani’s condition flared up but she resisted seeking treatment because of “her fear of bringing COVID home to her children.”

By the time she was forced to get medical attention at a hospital, her colon had ruptured, she was septic and she had a fever of 108 degrees. Even after her colon was removed, she got a blood infection and pneumonia.

On Aug. 5, she passed away. After her death, Bradley found a video addressed to him on her phone.

“Bradley, you’ve always been the one,” Stephani said. “You have always been the one my heart belonged to, the one that made me smile.”

“You’ve given me three beautiful children and a beautiful life. … The thought of having to tell you goodbye is the most heart-wrenching thing I think my heart could’ve ever done.”

“I know that you are going to be such a wonderful dad.”

“I wake up every morning listening to that video and I wake up crying to it,” Bradley told WOAI-TV in San Antonio. “I go to bed at night telling her, ‘Good night.'”

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“She was the most perfect, amazing, beautiful mother those kids could have ever asked for, and she will be impossible to replace.”

Because of coronavirus concerns, Bradley had not been allowed to visit his wife, and by the time he found out she was doing so poorly, it was too late.

“If it wasn’t cause of this COVID, she could’ve gone to the hospital a lot sooner and a lot of this could’ve been prevented,” Bradley said. “Her colon maybe not have been taken out. It’s just a whole circle of all this stuff could’ve been prevented, but she was so scared of going over the hospital getting COVID and bringing it back to our kids.”

Bradley said the worst part is having to tell their three children that mom isn’t coming home. At such a young age, they can’t really understand the implications.

“They want to call Mommy and ask her and every time they want to, I gotta tell them they can’t and that’s the hardest thing because I want to, too,” he said.

A GoFundMe was set up for the family to help cover funeral costs and set up trust funds for the children, which Stephani’s mother said is what her daughter would have wanted.

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking