Meet Brittany Farris – The Quiet Fighter
I met Brittany many moons ago when my we both lived in Henderson, TN and worshipped at the same church where dad was preaching at the time. I remember her at youth group events, always with a good story and a smile, and I will always call her by her maiden name because old habits die hard. Brittany and her husband, Todd will celebrate 13 years of marriage in July and both work in education – she teaches second grade and he is an assistant junior high principal. She is the proud mama of three boys (11, 8, and 7) and loves when they can all spend quality time at the beach. In March, their world turned upside down when Todd tested positive for COVID-19, the first in West Tennessee, and was fighting for his life while Brittany and the boys were quarantined at home. While Todd fought in the ICU, Brittany fought to keep it all together at home, enduring unimaginable stress in an unprecedented situation. I spoke to Brittany about this time in their life, how her marriage changed after this experience, and the nightly routine that kept her family together, even when they were apart. I loved my conversation with Brittany and I know you’ll be inspired after reading her words just as I was.
When did you first realize your husband might have COVID-19?
Todd was sick at home for ten days before he was admitted into the hospital. He mainly had a very high fever and was very weak. He was tested for Covid on March 16th. He really didn’t have the symptoms but was tested anyway. He woke up the morning of the 20th and said that he needed to go to the hospital. I took him to our doctor first and they did a chest X-ray and we found out he had pneumonia. We were told to go straight to the hospital. I knew then he was very sick.
What was the experience like from when he started showing symptoms to being on a ventilator in the hospital?
Once I got him to the hospital and checked into the ER I was told to wait in my car. I wasn’t allowed to be with him. I waited in the car for over four hours. He was able to text during this time and finally told me he was being admitted but I wouldn’t be able to go with him. So I went home to get the boys who were with my parents. We didn’t have his Covid results yet but I was worried that if he did have it that now my parents had been exposed.
When he was sent to the hospital he was on 2 ml of oxygen. By Saturday he was on 5 ml oxygen and the max they will give you is 6 ml. So around 2:00 on Saturday, the nurse called and said they were discussing putting him on a ventilator. Todd was not sure about doing this. I immediately said yes. Put him on the ventilator. He was just so scared and unsure of everything.
He was in a medically induced coma and on a ventilator for eight days. He remained in the hospital several days after coming off of the ventilator but finally got to come home after two weeks in the hospital.
How did you manage your fear and anxiety while he was in the hospital and you weren’t able to with him?
I was very anxious and scared. I couldn’t be with him. I couldn’t be with anyone. The boys and I were quarantined at home. I just had to rely on the prayers from so many. Some days, I had a hard time knowing what to pray but I knew so many others were praying. Our school families took care of us providing us food, toys and games for the boys. That really helped take a little stress off. I did finally ask for a prescription for my nerves. I needed to be the best mom to the boys so I knew I needed it.
What were some scriptures that kept you grounded during this time?
II Timothy 4:17 But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me.
I referenced this earlier but the song “Never Once” was one I sang a lot during this time.
What did you find most helpful that people said to you during this time? What was least helpful?
It felt like people knew what I needed when I didn’t know I needed. The people that sent games and toys for the boys. That meant the world to the boys. One day Sawyer (7), looked at me and said “Momma, people really love us.”
These are things I pray they remember: All the love we were shown.
Least helpful: Some people were nosy. I know people were scared. We all were. People would ask about his symptoms or where he got it. That was just frustrating but I know they truly meant well.
Were there specific and significant routines or activities that you continued to do with your kids during this time?
Every night we would have a family prayer. They would each say a prayer and they could ask questions and I’m happy to say this has been something we’ve continued doing as a family.
What do you want your kids to remember most about that time?
I really hope they remember how strong they were. They were scared but truly handled everything so much better than I ever thought they could. I hope they remember all the good things people did for us. The food and the things people brought. More than anything I hope they will all the prayers that were said for us and how God protected their daddy and kept him safe.
Was there a phrase or song that kept you grounded during this time?
Faith over fear.
The song “Never Once” was one that really got me through during all this. Even though I was alone (at home with the boys) I never felt alone. I honestly felt the love and prayers and that gave me so much peace.
Did your view of community change during this experience?
Oh my goodness, YES. Henderson is a small town. Some people love it here. Some people hate it. I’ll be honest. I have looked for reasons to leave several times. After this, there is no where else I would rather be.
We wouldn’t have gotten through this without our people.
This community truly took care of us. The mayor even held a prayer service at the courthouse. We were taken care of. I honestly didn’t need anything for the two weeks Todd was in the hospital. I told a friend I needed a thermometer because the only one I had was the one Todd had used. She said throw it away. I’m on it. Within an hour I had three from various people. I was trying to keep the boys hydrated so they could hopefully stay well. I told my preacher the boys needed some Gatorade and the next thing I know he is at the door with a huge box with every flavor. We were very blessed during this time.
How did you change as a wife and mom thanks to this experience?
This is a big one. I’m going to be a little real with you. Our marriage was a little off before all this happened. All marriages have struggles and about a week or two before Todd got sick, we had a big disagreement. I remember praying to God to fix us. Fix me. Fix him. I begged God to restore our marriage. I prayed for peace. I just prayed. I don’t think God allows bad things to happen but I definitely feel like what happened to Todd happened for a reason.
Maybe God was using this to fix us.
I had two long weeks to pray for my husband and pray for our marriage. I begged God to heal him and bring him home to us. Thankfully, Todd was a fighter and came home to us. I told him that God was giving us a second chance and we had to work to make things better. I am so thankful to have my husband home with us. I need him and our boys need him. I know we are both stronger because of this experience. Our faith is stronger. Our love for each other is stronger.
How did this change you as a mom and your relationship with your boys?
I have always been close to my boys but we definitely clung to each other a little closer during the time he was sick. I had to step up and be mom and dad for a two weeks and tried to be strong for the boys. It was tough on all of us but we did have a lot of fun together passing the time. I like to think I’m a better mom because of this experience.
Any advice for other women going through difficulty circumstances?
First pray! Try to stay strong. Lean on your support system. If people offer to help you…let them. That’s hard to do but do it! It makes all the difference.
*This is the second post in my summer series of WOMEN WHO INSPIRE. To start at the beginning, go here.