I’m not sure if most marriage ceremonies still say “..for better or for worse, in sickness and in health…” but in the 21-year marriage of Cindy and Chang Lee, the meaning of those words was certainly observed. After bearing two children, Cindy had back trouble that didn’t go away and left her unable to get around on her own. Chang, a physician, made sure that when he couldn’t look after Cindy himself, some good caregiver did.
Then the unthinkable happened. Chang got a brain tumor. He went through surgery, radiation and chemotherapy and whatever other treatments could be given him, but after months of trying, everything failed. He was going to die soon.
That’s when he decided how he wanted to leave his family and his life. “I want to repeat our wedding,” he told Cindy, “with all the original bridesmaids and groomsmen and relatives who can attend. I want our two children to see how our marriage started. I want a reminder of how much I love you, and how much you love me. Then I may be able to say goodbye. For now.”
The wishes of those who are dying are like commands to those who love them. Arrangements were hastily made for a marriage ceremony in Maui, the air perfumed by plumeria and the whispering ocean as background music. They would have a luau and dancers and all the natural beauty of the Hawaiian island.
They will be flying over there by the end of June, along with people who care about them and wish them well, both of them in wheelchairs, both still in love, and both preparing to say goodbye.
But perhaps only for now.
Gail Kimberly Francis
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