Widow of hockey player who died at 25 opens up about his last moments

Emily Cave writes candidly about the agonizing four days her husband, Colby, spent in the hospital prior to his death.
/ Source: TODAY

Emily Cave, the widow of Edmonton Oilers forward Colby Cave, is sharing her story following the death of her husband, who was only 25, in April after he suffered a brain bleed.

The couple had returned to Canada to quarantine while the NHL suspended its season. On April 6, he got a bad headache and downplayed his wife’s concern that it was a tumor.

“But through the night, he got significantly worse,” Cave wrote in an essay for ESPN. “He got up and vomited about four times, but then would fall back to sleep. I took his temperature at 6:30 a.m. and knew he really wasn't well.

“By the time the ambulance got there, he was hypothermic and completely unresponsive,” she added.

Emily Cave, who had been married to Colby for nine months before he died, wrote that he had surgery to remove a cyst from his brain after he had been airlifted to a Toronto hospital.

“Within 14 hours of Colb first saying he had a headache, I was told my 25-year-old husband was on life support," she wrote. "It wasn't until Thursday, when the doctor told me that Colby probably wasn't going to make it, that I was finally allowed into his hospital room, to physically be with him one last time, to tell him goodbye.”

Cave says the whole ordeal was surreal.

“I remember begging the doctors to tell me he was going to wake up. ‘He's going to wake up, right?’ There would be a dead silence after every time I kept saying it on repeat. It was all I could manage to get out of my mouth,” she wrote.

Cave, who said doctors had told her Colby had a 50% chance of waking up, also wrote about the complications the coronavirus caused, noting that she couldn’t be by his side in the ambulance, helicopter or his room.

“It was so hard not being with Colby through his four days in the hospital. After his surgery, we were told we weren't allowed to come back because of COVID restrictions. I begged them again to lock me in his room, that I would wear a diaper, that I wouldn't leave or eat or anything, but I wasn't allowed to go in and touch him,” she explained.

Cave says she is heartened by how the hockey world has rallied to her side and helped her start the Colby Cave Memorial Fund.

“Shortly after Colby passed, the Oilers told me they wanted to start a fund in Colby's honor and asked what I would like proceeds to go to. As a hockey wife, you put everything on hold, and I can't thank them enough for giving me a purpose to continue Colby's legacy alongside the hockey community,” she wrote.

“The Colby Cave Memorial Fund supports community programs involving mental health and will help underprivileged children with access to sports. Since we were married only a year, we didn't have a chance to have kids yet, but I know Colby would have been an incredible dad. That's one thing I'll miss the most, but I know he'll help so many kids through the foundation.”