A terminally ill couple in Florida fell in love and decided to get married in the hospice care facility in which they both live.
The remarkable ceremony took place in front of close friends and family members last week, as they didn’t want to wait another minute to be together. Debbie Rivera, 54, and John Whaley, 58, are both suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, according to their nursing home.
Additionally, Whaley — who is a triple-amputee — has also been diagnosed with stage three lung cancer, he told Good Morning America. But this terminally-ill couple simply wanted each other’s companionship on this last stage of their lives.
“We were both so tired of being alone and not having nobody except for family. It makes me feel I got somebody here I can talk to and relate to.”
Whaley had been living at the Governors Creek Health and Rehabilitation Center for a few months, when he met Rivera, while relaxing in the facility’s TV room. The pair struck a friendship almost instantly.
“We’d sit in there and talk and we started getting to know each other and started having feelings for each other,” he said. “We both like the same things and we both are in bad shape, so we hit it off.”
Even though they are both terminally ill, Whaley decided to propose to Rivera and was somewhat surprised that she agreed to spend their lives together and said yes.
“When we found out they wanted to get married, we had one of our chaplains do the service,” Philip Slotin, general manager of Vitas Healthcare, which provides support and comfort to patients at Governors Creek, said. “It was really exciting that we could help this happen and have a nice celebration.”
Hospice is not a place in which many people would expect to find a love story such as that of Debbie and John, but Slotin agreed to organize everything and give them the wedding they wanted. And so on May 23 family and friends gathered to watch them exchange vows.
Debbie wore a white dress and was given away by her son, Scott, while John was struck by his bride’s beauty.
“She looked beautiful. Debbie cried. I was about to a couple of times. After, there was cake, crackers, teas, and stuff like that. We smiled for a bunch of pictures. My face was never so tired from smiling.”
Everything was perfect and the terminally-ill couple took a reprieve from the sadness of their health situation. The happy couple spent their wedding night at his home in Jacksonville, Florida.
[Image via ABC News]