Radio host gets tattoo in honor of his wife after dying from COVID-19

Published: Dec. 24, 2020 at 10:43 AM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - You probably remember JJ Hayes -- he hosts the morning show on KFDI radio.

Eyewitness News followed his wife’s battle with COVID-19 for weeks before she died in October. Now, Hayes is keeping his wife’s memory alive permanently.

Pages in photo albums, pictures on the wall, and Christmas decorations on the mantle where her urn rests -- just a few ways Hayes reflects on years of marriage to his wife Michelle.

“As you can imagine, it’s been hard. It’s close to the holidays. Thanksgiving was our favorite holiday,” Hayes said.

The radio host shared his wife’s battle with COVID-19 on his morning show each day and when she felt up to it, she’d come on the show too, even from the ICU.

“At the end of that bit that I played on their air, her last words were ‘I love you, honey.’”

Four words he’ll never forget.

“I know exactly how it is in my head. I will always have it.”

Last week he got them marked into his skin with a tattoo -- but it’s more than just words, it’s the exact audio that played on the air.

He took that clip’s waveforms to his tattoo artist, who had his own idea.

“The part of the waveform that represents the word ‘love’ he used the negative space to put a heart in there. Which I hadn’t thought about, but it’s really the piece that ties it all together.”

It’s not the only tattoo that symbolizes their marriage.

“We’d get what we called anniversary tattoos, every other anniversary. And we had plans to get one this year in 2021.”

While photos may fade and albums sit on a shelf, the ink on Hayes’ arm is just as permanent as his love for Michelle.

“That was the intent. To always have a piece of her with me wherever I go.”

Hayes said he appreciates all the community’s support, but wants to remind people that many others have lost their loved ones to COVID-19 too.

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