I have absolute certainty in the power of love. I have witnessed how powerful a motivator love is in overcoming all manner of circumstances. A couple can have similar values and hopes for a future – but it is love that makes it come true. In an astonishing act of love and courage, this groom insisted on overcoming his wheelchair twice – to say his vows and to seal their marriage with a kiss.
It was a last minute request for a wedding ceremony – scheduled within two weeks. I happened to be available and accepted the wedding. I received a request to meet them in their home to go over the ceremony, since the groom was in a wheelchair. After being together for six years, plus heart surgery, the groom had a car accident in 2009 that broke his back, shoulder and right eye. He had suffered a seizure and had lost control of the car. It was during his hospitalization that the doctors found he had glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), which is by far the most common and most malignant form of brain tumors. It is the same form of brain cancer that Senator Ted Kennedy was diagnosed with and ultimately died from.
After eighteen months of treatment, he is cancer-free. However, the treatments have left him paralyzed on one side. The bride told me, “My guy is not a statistic and is proving the doctors wrong. For the first day, he could only move his thumb. Well, we have come a long way since then, and we plan on going a lot further and a lot longer.” The groom was anxious about the ceremony. She needed to carefully plan the ceremony with him.
When I checked in with each of them before the ceremony, they were upbeat. He was a little anxious at saying his vows, and I reassured him that everyone there loved him, so he could take all the time he needed. “Yes, it is about love,” he replied.
At the front of the room, we waited for his bride to enter. Many of the male guests were dressed similarly to the groom, in jeans and a Hawaiian shirt. The bride walked down the aisle to Jim Croce’s “Time in a Bottle.” Upon seeing her and hearing the lyrics, he and many of us shed tears.
But there never seems to be enough time
To do the things you want to do
Once you find them
I’ve looked around enough to know
That you’re the one I want to go
Through time with
We came to their vows. As planned, the bride reached down and helped him stand. They stood hugging each other as they each repeated their vows. We all felt the absolute conviction and passion in those vows. After a moment, she let him sit back in the chair so that we could sign the register and license.
The moment for me to declare them married had come. As the bride moved in to seal their vows with a kiss, he stopped her. He insisted on standing again to kiss her upright. And it was a passionate kiss between them. Their display of love and courage, together as a couple, inspired everyone. It was a standing ovation when she pushed his wheelchair down the aisle.
It is at times like these when I truly know that love does motivate us conquer our shortcomings. It allows us to see our authentic selves. It made me reflect upon the love I share with my Sweetheart. She has been with me for 30 years, even as I’ve struggled with my own brain tumor buddy for the past 12 years. The power of love gives us the energy to move forward with our lives in hope of a better future, together.