18 Days

A wedding ceremony in a hospital for Doris and Tom.


Last month, I got a call early Monday morning from a bride who was looking for someone to perform her wedding ceremony.  Doris had only two questions: Would I be willing to conduct their service in the hospital? And if yes, could we do it this week?
Two days later I was making my way through the hospital corridors toward the groom’s room. Not knowing how mobile Tom would be, I had been prepared to do one of those bedside weddings that I had seen in the movies (and far too many sitcoms.) Tom informed me that he was going to use his Physical Therapy Session to get dressed into his ceremony clothes and that he would meet Doris and me in the hospital chapel.
I don’t know if that chapel had ever been used for a happy occasion like a wedding, everyone working there couldn’t seem to remember one. But on that day at 12 o’clock in the afternoon, with candles lit and sunlight coming through the stained glass, Doris and Tom remembered how they met through a personal ad many years ago, reminisced of their hunting adventures through Africa, stated their hopes for the future, and acknowledged the frailty of life.
They made vows to each other and exchanged rings. And even though I could tell sitting and speaking were starting to take their toll on Tom, when it came time to seal their vows with a kiss, he was there.
This weekend Doris called to tell me that Tom had passed away in her arms. She wanted to thank me for helping to make their dream come true.  I thanked her for showing me a deeper dimension of love and devotion. They shared 18 days together as husband and wife.

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