Marathoner and sprinter Errol Hosein loved and lived for running. Known as a fitness fanatic in his Sangre Grande hometown, 53-year-old Hosein won many races in his lifetime- his medals testament of his endurance, grit, determination and success on the track or designated course.
Last month, Hosein spent 13 days at the Couva Hospital in a race for survival which he lost after succumbing to the COVID-19 virus.
Despite being physically fit and in perfect health, Hosein’s years of training did not prepare him for his toughest race- to beat a faceless virus that had snuffed out over 1,000 lives in the country.
Through sobs, Hosein’s 23-year-old daughter Rosandra Hosein, a medical student, blamed herself for her father’s untimely passing, stating if he did not have to work to pay for her tuition, he would have probably been alive today.
“Yes, I feel so guilty,” Rosandra admitted, her voice choked with emotions while speaking in her dormitory in Barbados where she has been studying for the past six months.
Hosein, a father of two worked as a back store attendant at a supermarket. Rosandra believed her dad, who was unvaccinated, contracted the virus at his job site at the end of May.
“He started to exhibit flu-like symptoms and stayed home to recover.” Two days later, Hosein returned to work even though his body was weak.
“Dad went back to work because he did not want to lose his job.”
She said Hosein’s employers sent him home after his health started to deteriorate.
Instead of going to the hospital, Hosein turned to alternative medicine to fight what was attacking his body. But his home treatment did not work.
“Things just got worst. Dad had a fear of going to the hospital.”
That trepidation was triggered by bad experiences Hosein had encountered with his parents who died in the hospital due to health issues.
“Dad knew the hospital routine…it was something he did not like. He had a phobia of going there to be treated.”
However, when Hosein began complaining of chest pains and difficulty breathing on June 2, Hosein’s wife Marilyn took him to the Sangre Grande Hospital where he was administered oxygen.
“I think he went into the hospital too late.”
A PCR test showed that Hosein was COVID positive. On June 3, Hosein was transferred to the Couva Hospital where he was placed in the High Dependency Unit.
The doctors warned Marilyn her husband’s prognosis was not good. Within hours, Hosein was shifted to the Intensive Care Unit after his lungs became infected.
“When the doctors called they said dad’s lung infection had progressed to pneumonia.”
Unable to comfort and provide support to her mother, Rosandra kept calling to find out about Hosein’s condition which worsened.
“I remember calling dad at the hospital. I told him I can’t wait for him to recover and for me to return home for us to be together again.” In a faint voice, Hosein promised he would bounce back. Rosandra’s last words to her father were “I love you.”
As the days passed, Hosein’s heart became enlarged and his kidneys began to fail.
Hosein’s major organs began to shut down until he slipped into a coma. Then the unexpected happened, Marilyn also got sick and was tested positive for the virus which plunged Rosandra into further worry.
“At that point, I could not function… because the two most important people in my life had the virus. Dad was already fighting for his life…now mom had fallen ill. I felt as if the entire world was crumbling before me.”
Rosandra said she prayed for her parents to be spared. But her prayers were not answered.
On July 15, Rosandra received the news Hosein had passed away.
“Dad faced his toughest race in hospital…the race for survival which he did not win. Honestly, I had some hope he would have pulled through as he was always a fighter. But the virus defeated him.”
With the borders closed, Rosandra knew if she came home she would have to be quarantined for a week. Her father’s body also had to be disposed of quickly.
“I agonised and cried. I decided not to go to dad’s funeral. It was one of the toughest decisions I had to make.”
Marilyn also could not attend her husband’s burial because she was in quarantine at home, while Rosandra’s elder brother was too distraught to bid his father goodbye.
Hosein’s final farewell had to be conducted by four relatives.
“It hurt me tremendously knowing I could not be physically there,” Rosandra said.
Rosandra had to tearfully watch her father’s service streamed live on Facebook.
As Hosein’s coffin was lowered into the grave, Rosandra said she felt part of her life leaving her body.
“If I knew this was going to happen I would not have left Trinidad back in January. This is my only regret. Yes, I feel extremely guilty. The main reason dad worked hard was to keep me in school.”
Rosandra said she had to repeat her first year in university after she did not do well in her exams.
“Once you have to repeat, GATE does not pay for that. So dad took a loan to pay for my tuition. It was very costly.”
To this day, she blames herself because her father wanted to retire and open a business for himself.
“If dad did not have to go to work probably he would have been alive today.”
Now, Rosandra said her mother would have to bear her father’s financial burdens to pay for the loan.
As she reflected on Hosein’s life, Rosandra said her dad did everything to make them happy and comfortable.
Outside of his family, Hosein had one passion running and exercising. Rosandra described her dad as a health enthusiast who trained at Larry Gomes Stadium daily.
“He was preparing for a track meet that was supposed to take place in either Barbados or Jamaica. Over the years daddy participates in track and field events….mostly sprint running….but sometimes he used to take part in javelin also.”
With the advent of COVID, Rosandra said Hosein turned his living room into a gym. She said after her grandparents die of health complications, Hosein changed his lifestyle and diet.
“He really tried to keep his body in good shape and ate the healthiest of things.”
Rosandra said her father always encouraged the youths to take part in sports and to maintain a proper diet.
Trying hard to come to terms with the death, Rosandra said she now realised her father had touched many lives.
“Dad was my adviser, supporter and motivator not only to me but a lot of people out there.”