A straight shot over the rainbow
Last week I had the honor of attending a ceremony that was both beautifully happy and crushingly sad–a wedding that took place in a patient’s room at Levine & Dickson Hospice House. In one of the cruelest twists that fate can provide, the recently joined couple will soon be separated and the brand new husband will become a widower. Because the bride is seventy years old and is dying of cancer.
Joyce and Ernie have been together for over twenty years, but they never married. Of course they meant to, but there was always an excuse: What’s the rush? There’s plenty of time for that. . . Things are so busy right now. . .
Then, about five years ago, Joyce found out she had cancer. She started treatment. She went into remission and things were good. But the cancer came back, this time for keeps.
Joyce and Ernie found their way to Levine & Dickson Hospice House. The staff kept Joyce’s pain in control and made her as comfortable as possible. But an internal struggle was keeping her restless. She worried that her path to heaven might be marred by the fact that she and Ernie had never married.
So a decision was made, and a wedding was planned in mere hours. Brian Doolittle (of Do A Little Floral) made a bouquet for the bride and boutonnieres for the groomsman. Volunteer Nancy Alexander furnished a cake. The bride, in pajamas, remained in bed. Beside her, holding her hand, sat the groom. With only a few family members and LDHH staff members in attendance (Joyce and Ernie didn’t want to make a big deal about it) the service began.
LDHH volunteer and harpist Tinky Timmons played the traditional wedding march and Beth Brittain, Levine & Dickson Hospice House chaplain, spoke a few simple words before walking the couple through the vows. Tinky played “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”, a haunting rendition made even more bittersweet by its unspoken implications. The couple shared their first kiss as husband and wife. There was not a dry eye in the room.
Joyce has good days and bad days. The night before the wedding was so bad that they weren’t sure she’d make it to the ‘I do’s. But the next day–that was one of the good ones. She married the man that she loves. She squelched the internal voices. As far as she was concerned, she had made things right. So that somewhere over the rainbow, her path would be a straight shot.
Special thanks to our volunteers (l-r) Brian Doolittle, Nancy Alexander, and Tinky Timmons
Joyce and Ernie, the newlywedsExplore posts in the same categories: cancer, end of life, hospice, Levine & Dickson Hospice House, spiritual care, volunteering comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.