This is why I love what I do. To share love stories like these. I'm not the best with words so telling their story is only best told by the bride herself. So without further ado...
"Anthony was one of my younger sister’s best friends throughout high school. We were introduced in the summertime of 2012, while I was a student-athlete at FGCU and he was working at Bell Shoals Baptist Church, but our friendship really began in February of 2014. A mutual friend took me on a road trip to visit my sister at college in South Carolina (and see snow for the first time) and he invited Anthony along to join us. That trip really allowed us to get to know each other. Once we returned from that trip, we were pretty much inseparable. As my sister stated in her maid-of-honor speech, I texted her asking her thoughts on the possibility of Anthony and I dating, her response was she couldn’t think of a guy as kind as he is and a couple more perfect for each other. The thought hadn’t ever occurred to her until it made perfect sense.
Shortly before our reconnection, I was diagnosed with Neuromyelitis Optica (NMO), a rare autoimmune disease that affects the optic nerves and spinal cord. There is no cure, but doctors have found treatments to help treat and prevent attacks. Unfortunately, a prognosis is unknown at this time. As the doctor was explaining the disease and treatment to me, all I heard was “chemotherapy every six months… for the rest of your life… blind… quadriplegic…”
That diagnosis was extremely hard to swallow.
Anthony was scheduled to leave for Bootcamp that April of 2014, but was canceled due to the recruiter not documenting his tattoo properly. A setback, which took well over a year to fix, we now realize was a wonderful blessing in disguise.
We were given the opportunity to grow closer and fall even more in love with each day God gave us.
We would wake up and decide what we felt like doing that day. We spent many afternoons at the beach, kayaking, hiking, camping, and a lot of lazy days just enjoying the company of our family and friends. We prayed with each other and for each other every day.
The first trip we took together was to Miami so I could receive infusions. We decided to make a fun trip out of it. Side note - something I love about our relationship is we always try to make the best out of every situation. If there’s even a slight chance to do something fun or adventurous, we go for it. We went to Miami beach, the zoo, and a special dinner (where Anthony officially asked me to be his girlfriend). The next day I received an infusion, which kept me up all night, crying and sick. He stayed up all night by my side doing his best to comfort me. It was that night that I remember thinking to myself “The most loving and caring man is holding me in his arms as I cry in pain. If God allows it, I will marry him one day.”
A few months after we started dating, I became paralyzed from the waist down. I spent the next year in physical therapy relearning to walk. Anthony endured the pain with me, both physically and mentally lifted me up, encouraged me to stay strong, and made me laugh through it all. My health began to finally rise. I started walking strong and vision improving with each day. I stayed in remission for the next 20 months.
After a tough year for both of us, the next year was full of health and success. Eighteen months after the original date, Anthony finally got approved to leave for the USCG basic training. The day he left was bittersweet. Although we were sad to say goodbye to our leisurely days spent together, we were excited to finally have this opportunity. It was the beginning of a new, long awaited chapter.
When I saw him two months later on graduation day, he finally looked as proud as he deserved to feel. All the patience, commitment, and hard work had finally paid off. The confidence and strength radiated off of him and I couldn’t have been more proud of the man I fall in love with over and over again.
He proposed on his leave after basic training. We spent the next 7 months living 1,670 miles apart and many months not even on the same continent without the ability to communicate. It was completely different from how we spent the majority of our relationship. Although, not the easiest at times, our relationship stayed strong.
In a recent post, I tried to sum up how we fell in love… Thinking back to the beginning of our relationship, when life for both of us was just not going the way we planned.
I termed the time where I fell sick and the diagnoses as a “wrecking ball” coming and destroying my world.
When our friendship began, we opened up our hearts and what we found in the comfort of each other was immense love, patience, understanding, and gratitude…
This (admittedly dramatic) statement stuck with me “somewhere amongst the wreckage, this marvelous love story began.”
But really, whenever people ask about our love story, it always comes back to the things we once thought were disasters, later turning out to be a blessing. So to me, our story is a reminder to have faith in God’s plan. God has a reason for every failure and obstacle that comes our way.
And now, we are married! Anthony leaves next week on a patrol, while I also leave for my own adventure training with my guide dog. We have plans to move into an apartment in Boston in Late-September. After that, we have no clue. The rest is in God’s hands. One thing I do know is that together we can make it through whatever ups and down, leaps and bounds that come our way. We are excited for this amazing adventure through life together."