It’s a story that’s bitter and sweet, but in the end, it’s one of endearing love involving a terminally ill Florida couple that recently married while under hospice care. The dying pair both suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (or COPD), and one is at the end stages of lung cancer. Still, Debbie Rivera and John Whaley found love in the darkest hours, citing an ABC News report.
On May 23, Whaley, 58 and Rivera, 54, exchanged vows at Governors Creek Health and Rehabilitation Center in Green Cover Springs. The path to the terminally ill couple’s nuptials reads like a fairytale; they were both in the right place, and at the right time for wedding bells to start ringing.
— Good Morning America (@GMA) May 29, 2015
The groom beamed as he talked about how he and his bride met. He had only been registered at the assisted care location for a short time. At some point, he and his future wife were introduced by an unnamed matchmaker at the hospice care facility.
“We’d sit in there and talk and we started getting to know each other and started having feelings for each other. We both like the same things and we both are in bad shape, so we hit it off.”
The terminal couple met in the smoking room at the hospice center. After talking, both realized they shared a lot in common. Not only were they both dying; they both were married in the past — Whaley once, Rivera twice.
— Beemzjoint·com (@RealAbdulQadir) May 29, 2015
After the proposal, the woman took three days to mull things over. But when she accepted his hand in marriage, the couple’s plans moved rather fast. Last Saturday, the terminally-ill newlywed couple became husband and wife. The ceremony was held outside as family and friends looked on. The couple was all dolled up for the ceremony.
Patricia Meeks was on hand to officiate the wedding. Apparently, everything went according to plan except for the moment Whaley realized he forgot the rings in his room. Meeks quoted the man on why he decided to take the big leap and wed again despite having a terminal diagnosis.
“His actual proposal was: ‘If I’m going to go out, I want to do it with you.’They just decided they wanted to take this part of the journey together. I think that’s pretty special.”
After getting married, the hospice care couple left the facility and will take up residence in Whaley’s camper back in a town near Jacksonville. Hopefully, the terminally-ill Florida couple live out their remaining days in comfort and love.
[Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]