Every Groom Should Be This Lucky

LOS ANGELES — Marital vows often include commitments “for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health.”

Long-married couples can assure newlyweds that many surprises come along. They’re fun when they involve the better, richer, or health part, yet other surprises can strengthen a marriage too.

It’s common, for example, for couples to be apart for an extended time. Modern, instantaneous communication makes that less difficult than it once was. It’s also common for couples to face serious illnesses.

In these respects, the experience of a couple married in Jamestown on the fourth day of Christmas 2019 is common, although the reason for being a continent apart since February 2020 — namely, a pandemic — is uncommon.

From long-married couples’ experience, newlyweds can know they too can endure surprises.

Even surprises such as the one from Christmas 2019, following which the bride’s prognosis is bright.

Nineteen days before the wedding, tests revealed that the cancer the bride had fought off from 2016 to 2018 was back. Ten days out, the decision was that treatment shouldn’t wait until after the wedding. So chemotherapy began eight days beforehand.

The bride called the groom nine days beforehand.

Call him fortunate, lucky, or blessed. Every groom should have a bride this fundamentally good.

“I love you too much to put you through this,” she said in offering to stand down from the wedding. “I’ll help you find somebody else.”

Calling that “the most loving thing anyone will ever say” to him, and assuring her she had just proven her loyalty, which wasn’t even in question, the groom declined the offer.

While swimming freestyle the next morning, he decided to go that day to the sanctuary where the wedding would take place.

Instantly there appeared to the groom, who had never experienced a vision, the statute of Jesus, surrounded by the white archway, from above the church’s altar.

“You do this, and I will take care of you,” the groom heard.

Guarantees hardly get better than this, and the groom, who hadn’t sought a guarantee, thought like a coach and reminded himself to get his head into the game.

Six days out, the bride wondered whether she’d feel up to the event.

But with the first chemotherapy round’s worst side effects behind her, the bride and those accompanying her boarded an overnight flight from her hometown, Los Angeles, on Christmas day, three days before the wedding.

Two days out, as the bride was picking up her dress, the groom assured delighted pastors and vendors the event was on.

They knew what had happened that month. So did her guests, having known her for years and fully experienced her cancer journey.

Some of the groom’s guests knew the bride had once had cancer. Yet other than the master of ceremonies, none of the groom’s guests, including his family, knew what had happened that month.

Their learning such news then would have distracted from their — and thereby the bride and the groom’s — enjoyment of the day.

Several such guests have since expressed astonishment at the news, with one marveling at how the bride and the groom held it all together.

“I don’t know how you did it,” he said.

It really wasn’t hard. Surrounded by jubilant well-wishers, the bride and the groom were full of adrenaline and were enjoying the day they had planned.

Besides, credit goes not to the groom but to the bride, who felt well but not her best that day, and knew that further treatment — guided by her longstanding healthcare professionals — would follow a necessarily abbreviated honeymoon.

With six chemotherapy rounds and successful surgery now behind her, with whatever additional treatment may follow, with the marriage paradoxically strengthened by the experience — and with the prognosis bright — the bride, with the groom’s help, will, with time, accomplish what they once foresaw accomplishing shortly after the wedding: Her move to his hometown.

Newlyweds wondering whether they can endure surprises should rest assured they can.

Dr. Randy Elf and the former Miss Hilary Kurtz were married (#KurtzElfWedding) on Dec. 28, 2019, in First Lutheran Church in Jamestown.



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