“I was extremely scared,” Greear said.
Describing those moments recently, Stephanie Greear broke into tears. In the emergency room, she’d feared the worst, she recalled.
“I kept thinking, ‘Oh, my God. What if this is the last time they (her sons) saw their dad?'” Stephanie said.
All the while, Terry fought for his life.
“She’s a superhero,” Terry said. “She was my superhero.”
‘God … please save him’
But one night, Terry, who’s gone by Coach Beard since one of his kindergarteners had trouble pronouncing Greear, was heading out the door to coach a high school soccer game when he felt sick.
“I didn’t feel right,” he recalled. “My body felt hot.”
“You’re going to be OK,” Stephanie remembers telling Terry. “You’re going to be sick for seven to 10 days. You’re going to be fine.”
Every time Stephanie’s phone rang, she felt panic, not knowing the type of news awaiting her on the other end of the line, she said.
“I held my breath the entire time,” Stephanie said. “I never knew what they were going to tell me.”
“It was the worst phone call I’ve ever received in my life. I couldn’t believe it happened,” Stephanie said. “I asked the doctors and nurses if he could hear me. She (the doctor) said, ‘Go talk to him. He may be able to hear you. We don’t know.'”
Stephanie remembers the sounds of the machines all around him. She broke into tears describing how she prayed over his body and then played his favorite music — reggae rock — hoping it would drown out the sounds of the machines.
“I asked God to please save him,” Stephanie said.
‘I don’t remember because I was out’
Students and staff decorated Terry’s school office with posters that said, “We ♥️ coach Beard,” “We miss you,” and “Best coach ever!”
Physical education teachers designed “#CoachBeard” T-shirts for everyone to wear.
And Stephanie filled his hospital room with pictures of family and friends. She wanted doctors and nurses to know he was a teacher, a father and a husband and he was loved, she said.
“Whenever I was coming to, or awake, I would see pictures, and the first picture I would see was this heart that says ‘We love you,'” Terry said. “That sort of gave me a little relief. Knowing that they are not physically there but I can see them.”
“I don’t remember because I was out,” he said.
But Stephanie remembers every twist and downturn of his condition, especially when she felt she had to explain the severity of Terry’s condition to their children.
“The worst part was telling my children that their father may not come home. And thinking that they didn’t even really get to say goodbye to him,” Stephanie said, tears welling in her eyes. “It was, it was hard. And he’s my partner in life. It was, it was unimaginable for me to think about going through life without him.”
‘I had to start fighting’
Terry had to get his head right to battle Covid-19. He credits Stephanie for helping him tap into his competitive instincts and for getting him back into the fight.
“My wife told me, ‘You’ve got to do this,'” Terry said. “Something kicked in where I had to start fighting. And I fought hard.”
After about two months, he turned the corner. Terry was beating Covid-19, but now his body was so weak he couldn’t do basic tasks.
“Trying to put a sock on with two hands was impossible. There was no way in the world I could do that,” Terry said. “My brain is saying: This is what you’re supposed to do. But my body is saying: No, you can’t.”
Terry entered an intensive rehabilitation program where he relearned how to do basic tasks, like dressing, washing dishes, walking and getting in and out of a car, he said.
“I want(ed) to do normal things,” Terry said.
Today, Terry’s beard is back and the oxygen machine is gone. He passed along the walker to his grandmother. And while he can walk around the block without getting short of breath and even play a little basketball, he doesn’t feel 100%.
“I want to go run, but I’m afraid to go run,” Greear said. “I’m still waiting to find out where my lungs are at this point.”
His goal is to run a 5K in November.
But one thing doesn’t have to wait, he said. It’s a message he has for everyone who will listen:
“Get vaccinated,” Terry said. “I don’t want anybody else’s family to have to go through what my family went through. No one’s wife or husband needs to tell their kids that mom or dad may not come home.”