Screenwriter and producer Heidi Ferrer is being remembered by her husband after her untimely death at age 50.
The “Dawson’s Creek” writer died by suicide on May 26. Ferrer had experienced intense physical pain due to symptoms of long-haul COVID-19 in the months and days beforehand, her husband Nick Guthe – also an esteemed writer and director – told Fox News on Friday.
“My beautiful angel, Heidi, passed over tonight after a 13 month battle with Long Haul Covid,” Guthe wrote on Twitter and in an emotional post shared to Ferrer’s personal blog. “She was an amazing mother. She fought this insidious disease with the same ferocity she lived with. I love you forever and I’ll see you down the road.”
In his post, Guthe noted that Ferrer had received a COVID-19 vaccine. “A lot of people with long-haul COVID have been told the vaccine might help them fight the virus,” he elaborated to Fox News. “Unfortunately, in her case, it did just the opposite.”
He shared that Ferrer “had been making progress.” However, a few months later, “she could barely walk” and got “terrible neurological tremors,” which Guthe described as similar to – but not exactly – “Parkinson’s tremors.”
In detailing Ferrer’s life up to her death, Guthe stressed the importance of listening to patients and identifying which symptoms could be cause for concern among people living with long-haul COVID.
While Guthe pressed that he’s “very pro-vaccine” and his son, who is 13, “will be receiving the second vaccine,” the writer said he didn’t “necessarily think people with long-haul COVID should be rushing to get vaccinated.”
“I think there’s too much unknown about it,” Guthe maintained.
“The really frustrating part about long-haul COVID right now is that so many doctors don’t know how to treat it,” he went on. “Some people try to gaslight those who have it.”
Guthe explained that Ferrer was unable to be referred to a long-haul COVID clinic as she hadn’t yet tested positive for the virus in April or May 2020; many earlier tests had proven to be inaccurate.
“She ended up getting a more sophisticated test from a doctor up at Stanford, Dr. Bruce Patterson, who was an AIDS pioneer in the 1980s and has been studying long-haul COVID,” Guthe said, adding that through Patterson’s basis of testing for long-haul COVID, Ferrer’s doctor was finally willing to refer her to the long-haul COVID clinic at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles.
“We got that letter of recommendation the day before Heidi took her life,” Guthe said of his wife, whom he described as “an American success story.”
“She was a small-town girl from Kansas who moved to Louisiana when she was 10 after her parents’ divorce,” he said. “She wanted to move to Hollywood and saved the money she made working in a shoe store after school for years.”
After graduating high school, Ferrer was accepted into the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Los Angeles and “literally packed up her Chevy Blazer and drove herself across the country sleeping in motels and putting a chair against the door by the doorknob at night just to make the door extra safe.”
For years, Ferrer worked as a hostess “to pay for her life,” while writing relentlessly during the days and afternoons, Guthe said.
She studied screenwriting with a real passion and sold her first screenplay to the late Academy Award-winning producer Arnold Kopelson before embarking on “an extremely vibrant writing career for over ten years.”
Guthe said Ferrer was “very open about her battles with alcoholism” and had a history of addiction and suicide in her family as her own father took his life when the couple’s son – who suffered from infantile scoliosis – was just four months old.
He said the stresses of dealing with their son’s diagnosis — and subsequent medical treatments — took an immense toll on Ferrer. She fell into drinking and depression all while still placing the needs of others ahead of her own, spending countless nights helping other families whose children were facing similar medical conditions, and catering to others struggling with addiction.
“The stress of my son’s illness contributed to her drinking, but she battled back, though,” Guthe said, adding that Ferrer had been sober for three-and-a-half years when she ultimately took her life.
“The best version of her came back to us – the absolute best,” he raved of his late wife. “She was just like the person before it started, but even better – more humble, more patient, more kind, more loving, more giving of herself to other people. I mean, she’d spend hours online helping other people who were struggling with addiction.”
Added the bereaved widower: “The real tragedy is that the last two months of her life when she did feel healthy, she was working very hard to finish her memoir.”
“I think she was really concerned she might have a heart attack or a stroke or something like that,” Guthe added. “Then she finished her memoir on May 2, told me it was done and said, ‘if something happens to me, please try to find a publisher or self-publish it.’ And I said, ‘Of course, I will.'”
“At the time I thought it could be possible she’d have a heart attack – didn’t know. Sure, her heart rate was spiking uncontrollably, all these symptoms that made no sense, the tremors. So, she worked extremely diligently up until the end, and it’s just tragic that she beat alcoholism, which is such a difficult disease to beat, only for this to take her,” he continued.
During his conversation with Fox News, Guthe also delved into Ferrer’s greatest memory from “Dawson’s Creek,” and explained that she “wrote the hell” out of her most beloved episode – the one in which Dawson, played by James Van Der Beek, and another character “get drunk for the first time.”
“[‘Dawson’s Creek’ creator] Kevin Williamson loved the episode so much, he actually had a screening party at his house for it and invited the whole writers’ room over to his house for the evening for a screening of it. That’s how much he liked it and how beloved an episode it was.”
Above all, Guthe said Ferrer “just loved seeing her words come to life.”
Ferrer is survived by Guthe, their 13-year-old son, as well as her mother and sisters.
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).