By Joe Holden

SOUTHAMPTON, N.J. (CBS) — The wife of a late New Jersey State Police lieutenant wants you to hear her husband’s story, and how, even in the prime of his life, a man in excellent shape was powerless against COVID-19. Brenda and Jimmy Bryan were only going to spend a few more years at their Southampton Township property.

They had plans to open a wedding venue business in Maryland but COVID-19 changed everything last month.

“It has no boundaries,” Brenda Bryan said.

Sitting in the backyard of her Southampton home, she thinks back a month ago to when life was normal.

“My daughter, my oldest daughter, just got engaged in October, so we were planning her wedding,” Bryan said.

It was Dec. 18 when her husband Jimmy, a father of two girls, a son, brother and a retired New Jersey State Police lieutenant, received his positive COVID test.

A week later on Christmas Day, the 53-year-old was on a ventilator.

“I was getting texts saying, ‘Help me,’ because he couldn’t breathe, and he couldn’t talk on the phone so he was texting me, ‘Help me,'” Bryan said.

Lt. Bryan died on New Year’s Eve.

It was a shocking defeat, his wife says, for a man who was twice a world arm wrestling champion and someone in great health who could effortlessly bench 500 pounds.

“I never in a million years would have thought my husband at 53, who is an athlete, works out three times a week, it would never happen to him. And it’s a brutal process,” Bryan said.

Bryan invited us to tell her husband’s story and how they were forced to say goodbye to him from behind a glass window, as he was removed from life support.

“I couldn’t even hold him, I couldn’t hold his hand,” she said.

The ups and downs of the disease and the false hope were among the worst parts of Jimmy Bryan’s battle with the disease.

Brenda says they took it seriously and were careful.

“This disease is not just happening to the elderly. It’s happening to the fittest of fit,” she said.

The Bryan family plans on holding a memorial service in early March.

Bryan’s biggest message is for people to take this virus seriously because it has robbed them of so much.

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