Heartbreak as Covid-19 claims life of veteran educator
Cape Town - Years of love, friendship and companionship washed away in a matter of days as a husband watched the coronavirus take his wife one breath at a time.
Clement Meyer, 56, lost his wife of two years, Celine, last week. The couple had known each other for most of their lives; they were in primary school together. Though life took them down different paths, the pair found each other and dated for 14 years before they got married in 2018. Meyer, still grieving and in disbelief at the loss of his beloved wife, shared the pain of the family’s loss.
Celine was described by her husband as an energetic woman who loved to plan and organise events.
“Every occasion for her had to have a spectacular event, she took two years planning our wedding,” giggled Meyer. “If she was not a teacher, I am sure she would have been an events planner. She loved it and she was very good at it.”
Celine had comorbidities, but the family was still hopeful she would recover. But a three-week illness took the educator’s life, leaving behind only fond memories, pain and tears.
“On Christmas Eve, we noted that we had a slight cough, especially my wife, the cough got worse on Christmas day as well as other symptoms started to develop so the next day my wife and daughter got tested and her results came back positive on the same day,” said Meyer.
Celine, a foundation phase teacher in Mitchells Plain, gradually lost oxygen in her body and had to be admitted to hospital seven days later.
“She, being the person who she is, when she got her results she immediately got all the medication, added vitamins, zinc and all these other medications to help boost one’s system. We were sure we were going to beat this,” he said.
Meyer and his wife were in the same hospital as he had also tested positive, he was fortunate to beat the virus, recovering more and more each day.
“I was lucky enough to be able to see her during her time in hospital because we were in the same hospital. Her death is a great loss to us but we are taking it one day at a time,” added the grieving husband.
Celine is one of thousands of educators who have succumbed to the coronavirus; she was described as a loving, meticulous and driven teacher.
“She loved her job, she always put the children first, she was an amazing teacher,” added Meyer.
Celine had been teaching at Duneside Primary school for 31 years, she was acting principal at the school where her husband said she spent a lot of her time.
“She would leave home very early and was never back before 6pm, that is how dedicated she was to her work. Her death is a huge loss,” he said.
Education activist and friend to Clement, Vanessa le Roux said hearing of the deaths of teachers was heart-breaking.
"Too many teachers have died and our communities are numb. That man is shattered, the very thing he fought unapologetically for, to keep schools closed, killed his wife."
Le Roux said they were of the opinion that schools should be closed until the pandemic is under control.
"We hope that there will be no space for deviation, where schools can apply to open. It irks me that independent schools can go ahead and open ... while our poor communities, teachers and children are dying; our priority should be saving lives," she said.
Tasneem Majal posted on Facebook “school will not be the same without you Celine Meyer. You will remain in our hearts. I will cherish the pep talks, motivation and encouragement as well as the wrap on the knuckles over the years. You were an amazing human being and you will be very dearly missed by us all. RIP”.
There will be a drive-by memorial on Monday as Celine is prepared for her final resting place.