We have the privilege of interviewing Jenn, from Southern California, about her experience as a bride in a wheelchair. Welcome!
1. Can you tell readers a bit about yourself?
Jenn: I’m a social butterfly who loves concerts, plays, and movies. I hold a full-time job as an administrative assistant, and look forward to opening my own business as a certified life coach. I have SMA, a form of muscular dystrophy, and require a power wheelchair, ventilator, and trach tube. But this doesn’t stop me from dressing up and having fun!
2. Can you share your love story and how you got there?
Jenn: No one should be alone. I believe everyone deserves love. And if it doesn’t work out, wipe the tears, pick yourself up and try again. That’s what I’ve been doing ever since my husband passed away. We met online with the help of having a mutual nurse friend. This was in the early 2000’s, and we emailed each other every single day. What started as a friendship, blossomed over the years into romance, and when we started to hang out (my family moved from Texas to California), we were inseparable. We gave each other comfort and both had such similar personalities that we just clicked. But the best thing about him was his humor! You deal with a lot of crap in this life. If you can’t laugh through it, what’s the point of going through it? Once when he was ordering groceries, I had “cake mix” on the list. He asked what that meant. I said, “I don’t know. I’m just in the mood to bake.” He asked me what kind and I said I don’t care. Two days later, the groceries were delivered. There was 42 boxes of cake mix. Smart ass said, “You didn’t tell me. I bought every one they had.”
3. How did he propose?
Jenn: Our first official date was Disneyland. Two years later, he made reservations at Blue Bayou. My van was having issues and I said, “I may not visit you this week. I need to have the van checked.” He flipped out, which is hilarious because he was the most chill, easy-going guy. He was like, “Just don’t cancel. It’s important.” Like me, he had SMA, so both of our nurses were at dinner with us. Then he told me to order dessert. When I said I was full, he insisted. All of a sudden, both nurses got up from the table and walked away. He started talking—he was a very professional, very business minded person. Everything had to be logical, not romantic. The way he was talking was like a business proposal, “We’ve been together officially for two years. I think we get along really well. We get each other. We share the same dreams. It’s only logical to move forward.” I teased him for years that I was waiting for the pie chart! As he was talking, the waiter came by and put a plate of rose petals in front of me on the table with the ring. I started crying happy tears.
4. What was the wedding and planning like?
Jenn: I love Christmas! My apartment looks like Santa threw up in it, so my wedding of course was very red and green festive. As much as my mom joked Santa would bring me down the aisle in a sled, I did have a fully decorated tree at the altar. It was everything I had envisioned as when I was a little girl, except for the dress, which I had handmade by a seamstress with lace and beads all over.
5. What was the the relationship like up to the end?
Jenn: It was amazing. We talked everything out. We were always there for each other. For three weeks, I was by his side when he was in the hospital with pneumonia. I believed he’d get better, but when I asked, “Babe, are you okay?”, he couldn’t talk because he had a cuffed trach, which he didn’t use at home. Our eyes met and we had a connection of understanding. I knew he wanted to answer, “I don’t know.” All I could think of to say was, “I love you.” Then he gave me the sweetest look that said, “I love you, too.” He shared his cute little sexy smile and his eyes rolled back in his head. He never woke back up. I was holding his hand when his heart stopped beating and have never let it go. Our memories will always live on.
6. How do you keep his memory alive and how do you view marriage after his passing?
Jenn: I have a tattoo for him; it has life sabers—since he loved Star Wars—a Yoda quote, and a chess queen—he played chess—and a carrot and a pea as a symbol from Forrest Gump. As I look back, I know love is real. I used to go to his cemetery, but I don’t go as often now; I realized that I wasn’t going there for him, but for myself. I may not believe in soul mates, but I believe in having values, respect, and companionship with a person. The next man who comes into my life will have to accept I had a love that shaped my expectations.
7. What advice do you have for other brides in wheelchairs?
Jenn: Every girl should dream of a wedding. You are no less deserving of a beautiful wedding and a loving relationship. In the words of Marilyn Monroe, “Keep your head, your standards, and your heels high.” You have a lot to offer.
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