NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The COVID-19 virus is unpredictable, and when it strikes at its worst, it’s unforgiving.  

One Metro Nashville educator is feeling firsthand the heartache COVID-19 can cause after losing his mother. On her behalf, he’s pleading with the public to heed his warning.  

Carolyn Sexton’s family thought she was getting better. In fact, after five days on a ventilator, she was supposed to come home to Henry County.  

“You don’t want this, this is real, it’s horrible,” Dr. Gary Hughes said.  

But her condition crashed. The ugly wrath of COVID-19 claimed another victim. One of the more than 3,200 Tennesseans to die, and that number is still on the rise.  

“Losing my mother who is the center of our family has been horrible, and it’s hard,” Dr. Hughes said.  

Dr. Hughes is the executive principal at John Trotwood Moore Middle School in Nashville and he is battling tremendous grief.  

Sexton was 77. She’d take walks, mowed a two-acre yard and loved to cook. But while Dr. Hughes copes with sudden loss, he’s determined to warn anyone willing to listen.  

“I’m more concerned now than ever,” Dr. Hughes said. “Letting people know that how serious this is, how easily it could take somebody in your own family.”  

Dr. Hughes says not taking the virus seriously is a fatal mistake and the virus doesn’t care who’s in the White House.  

“I wish people would not allow their politics to get into the middle of them thinking clearly,” Dr. Hughes said. “This is not like the flu, and people are dying in huge numbers…people would rather hear the truth and don’t panic over the truth.”  

And as hard as it is to hear, it’s not going away – the hard truth Dr. Hughes believes we all must learn from.  

“She suffered and died alone,” Dr. Hughes said. “The truth is we lost our mother, and we’ll never have her again…there’s just no going back.” 

Dr. Hughes’s middle school has held virtual classes since March. He says he worries about his staff, the kids and their families. He’s glad they can learn safely from home.