My nurse insisted that I write this story… So this is for you Amanda.
My fiance and I were engaged when I had what I now refer to as ‘the great crash’ of 2007. We had been engaged for several years but due to work demands and both our parents dying of cancer in the same year, we had postponed our wedding several times. We started wondering if we would ever get married.
We had just moved cities and jobs and we were totally alone when finally, at the worst possible time, the crash came. I couldn’t move my legs. I was blind in one eye. My body ached and I was either in waves of nausea or drenched with fevers. I barely had the energy to breath.
I really didn’t know if I was going to live so I did what any scared and loving fiance would do; I told my fiance to leave. I was quite insistent. I begged him to leave and find someone else.
He didn’t go. He wouldn’t go.
I don’t know how I managed it but I recall being bedridden, unable to get out of bed, with a laptop and working from home, doing up to 16 hour days. Vomiting. Crying. Scared. It’s a blur now but it is also a very scary blur too.
I told my then fiance that I didn’t know what was going to happen to me but given that my mother had died of cancer, it was sitting heavy on my heart and mind. I didn’t know what to do next, so my fiance decided to arrange for us to be married. We agreed if it really was going to be the end we wanted to finally be married. I couldn’t plan how to get to the bathroom let alone my own wedding so D had to plan it all.
So he went to work planning a wedding. Our wedding.
After telling me that he had “…found a celebrant that was prepared to hold the ceremony at my bedside if needed, as long as we had witnesses…” we then realized that we needed something to wear. What do you wear to a bedside wedding? White pyjamas? Who would we invite? We could hardly invite family and loved ones to come all the way only to have wasted a trip if the wedding didn’t happen because I was just too sick. It would be cruel and unfair on everyone. I would feel enormous guilt and sadness if that had happened. So we decided we must keep it very small and flexible.
On his day off my fiance left me briefly to go into the city to try and find some outfits. He was nervous and confused. What should he buy? He was having to plan a wedding all by himself. This was not how we planned our wedding to happen at all. Its not how anyone plans their wedding to happen.
As I lay in bed I got a call on my mobile /cellular phone from D that he was in a store and that he could “… see some nice tops and skirts, which might be a good idea, in case I ever wanted to wear them out again or individually…[I laughed at the irony of the situation and the fact that only a man would think of a ‘versatile wardrobe’ f0r a wedding day] … what do you think?” He said. I agreed to leave it to him.
It became apparent to the ladies in the store who had overheard the conversation that D was in fact shopping for a wedding outfit and I think the reality struck them by surprise because after he hung up from me they made an amazing amount of fuss and cooing over him. They were amazingly helpful although, truthfully, they were not completely on board with the whole ensemble idea. They tried in vain to convince him to go to a bridal shop, but apparently he was as stubborn with them as he was when he told me he wouldn’t leave me. In any case they soon realized he was not going to budge.
He returned that day, after having had special attention, with an ivory blouse and a black full length skirt. He was anxious yet proud of his choices, and I was lost for words. He also informed me that on the walk home from the train station he had passed by a lady who had a sign in her front yard advertising hairdressing. He had called in on his way home and explained our situation and she had agreed to come to our home (around the corner) and do my hair if needed. He had also managed to get himself a suit that he could get ‘…lots of use out of…’ and he was more than pleased with himself. It was all set. We just needed some flowers and some witnesses.
My suffering had improved slowly. I was finding that with handfuls of anti-nausea pills and pain killers I could manage to sit up a little longer and keep down a little food. I had my goal set on being around long enough to get married.
D went to the florist and ordered flowers and I asked my boss if he would be witness at my wedding. He was shocked but he agreed. I asked several other people from my work if they could / would come at late notice but also be prepared to have it all cancelled at even later notice. We now had a bridal party.
When the day finally came my I still couldn’t walk (could stand for a few moments with help) and I still had very limited vision. I was shaking, dizzy, nauseous and still in terrible pain… but determined to see it through. We had come so far. “We can still cancel if you’re not well enough,” D said. But I wanted to show him I was determined and that I loved him, dearly.
My future Mother in Law arrived only days before the day [that’s a whole other story!] and she realized, with horror, we had no wedding cake, so she decided to make her Christmas Cake recipe be her wedding gift to us both. I have to say the smell of the cake cooking in the oven was both beautiful and nauseating. We thought nothing could surprise us about our wedding at this point however we were both wrong when we awoke on the day of our wedding to discover that the Dogs had eaten half the wedding cake! That is how it ended up being half the size of a normal Christmas Cake and covered with extra frosting. Its ironic that a Cocker Spaniel and a Bearded Collie were the first to cut the cake! We kept this detail from our wedding guests of course.
On the day of the nuptials we decided it was a beautiful enough day that we would drive down to the Botanical Gardens and exchange our vows there; and so we did. I had always wanted to be married in a garden and we both decided to be married on the same day as my mother, in her honor. As we neared the car park I realized I couldn’t move again. The drive had been too hard, even though I had been laying down and the chair reclined. D and my boss helped carry me just inside the gates to where some park benches were positioned outside of a garden cafe/restaurant. They placed me down and as if by some stroke of luck a busker playing a harp was playing classical music and selling his home made C.D’s next to the park benches. We offered to buy his CD’s if he played for us. He eagerly agreed and that’s how we decided on the soundtrack of our wedding.
Pictures of the wedding were taken by the handful of guests and their iphones, which although they were the ‘selfie’ type of pictures, they are our official wedding photos and they clearly show how blissfully happy we both were. It really was an amazing day and apart from my illnesses, which I still have today, I wouldn’t change a thing. Although we would perhaps have had quite a few more loved ones around, but that is how it goes with unpredictability and Autoimmune diseases. It is not just the diseases that are unpredictable, its also your entire life and plans.
Again, we would change almost nothing about the day… However…There was a moment where a group of people had wandered into our ‘wedding’ and were trying to set up a picnic blanket in front of our ceremony. Upon seeing some well dressed people, a harp player and the bouquet they quickly apologised, smiled and agreed to shift their picnic a little further away, although still remained close enough to hear the whole event and clap as we exchanged “I Do’s”.
A Chronic Wedding is not one that can be easily described or planned but as long as you both love each other it can still be the happiest day of your lives… for as long as you both shall live.