Today I officiated at the wedding of Lisa and Tom. Weddings are a fun part of being a pastor and I agreed to do this wedding in March when Lisa contacted me. Lisa and her children are all members of the Wedgewood church. Her oldest, Ryan, is a year younger than John and all three of the kids went through confirmation with me. Lisa has been single a very long time, and I was excited that she was getting married. Since we were already going to be in Akron, the timing worked out perfectly!
But the wedding didn’t go exactly as planned. I got an e-mail from Tom yesterday morning that Lisa was undergoing emergency surgery, supposedly appendicitis. The surgery took much longer than expected, and Lisa was just getting out of recovery when I got to the hospital late yesterday afternoon. It turns out she didn’t have appendicitis, she had an adenocarcinoma, which is a secondary cancer tumor, generally malignant and caused by a cancer elsewhere in the body. Obviously this was devastating news to the whole family who had gathered for the wedding.
Tom insisted he wanted to marry Lisa today, as planned, no matter what the prognosis turns out to be. He told me that he would rather be with her through hard times than without her. After talking to a groggy Lisa, we decided to go ahead and have the wedding today in the hospital room.
When I got to the hospital today, Lisa’s girls – Kelly and Rachel – had decorated the hospital room with balloons, streamers, and white bells. They even hung a “Just Married” sign over the door. Lisa was wearing her wedding gown although it wouldn’t button all the way, and her hair and makeup were fixed perfectly. Of course, the bride also kept dozing off because of the pain meds.
At the given time, Rachel started a recording of “The Wedding March” and Tom walking slowly into the room making everyone laugh with his goofy grin. He looked as if it was the best day of his entire life. We had the wedding ceremony with Lisa lying in the bed and Tom standing beside her. When it was time to make their vows, Tom knelt beside the bed so he was the same level with Lisa. “For better, for worse, in sickness and in health, until death shall part us.” The words had a more immediate meaning for the bride and groom but none of us brought it up today.
A steady stream of nurses, aides, and even patients came into the room to wish Lisa and Tom all the best and Lisa was able to stand up for a little while to get some pictures taken. I’m sure she fell asleep as soon as she got back in bed.
We don’t know what the future holds for Tom and Lisa. The oncologist will be in with the pathology results on Monday. But Tom and Lisa will face it together, with courage, hope, and faith. It took them a long time to find each other, and they are going to fight the cancer together.
I closed the short wedding service with the Apache Wedding Blessing: Now you will feel no rain, for each of you will be shelter for the other. Now you will feel no cold, for each of you will be warmth for the other. Now there will be no loneliness, for each of you will be companion to the other. Now you are two persons, but there are three lives before you; His life, Her life and Your life in Christ together.
Prayers and blessings, Lisa and Tom, on your wedding.