His mind was still sharp, but his body was succumbing to a long-standing illness. He fought hard, but realized he soon would lose his battle. He was fortunate to have a caring wife and daughter, who was planning to be married in a year. It crushed his heart to know that he would not be present to give his daughter’s hand in marriage.
His wife, consistently at his bedside, looked exhausted. She told me how upset her husband was because he would not live to see his daughter be married. “Do you think there’s any way they can get married in the hospital, so he can be present?” she asked.
It would not have been right for me to say no. “Yes, we’ll make it work,” I said. Our hospital president gave permission. It was Wednesday, and the wedding would take place that Saturday, as our patient’s health was fading quickly.
We consulted with the bride and her mother to ensure she would have a beautiful wedding in our hospital. There would be 50 guests for the wedding in our chapel, followed by a reception. Everyone I talked with about flowers, music, photography, and more were eager to help.
We also made arrangements to ensure our patient’s safety and comfort on the wedding day. His favorite nurse would be there to guide him. His physician ordered medications that would give him some energy to help him through the special day. The family bought him a tuxedo shirt that would fit over his central line, making it easier to manage.
On Saturday, everything was ready. The father of the bride was alert, handsome, and ready to embrace the beautiful day. The glowing bride walked down the aisle next to her father in his wheelchair. At the end of the aisle, he stood up long enough to present his daughter to her groom. Then, he carefully sat back down to watch the rest of the ceremony, helping his daughter embark on a new life when he knew his own would soon end.
At the reception, after the bride danced with her new husband, she asked her father to dance. He motioned to me to lock his wheelchair so that he could stand up. He held his daughter as they slowly swayed to the music. I don’t know where he found the strength, but he did.
It’s difficult to put the experience of that day into words, but the positive feelings will last a lifetime. The mother of the bride hugged me and said we could not have given her family a greater gift. I’m honored to have witnessed the joy and love of that unforgettable day. It’s an example of how nursing has so much depth of life to offer. We often see people at their most vulnerable moments, but we also have the opportunity to help them realize dreams.
Submitted by Penny Sikes.