OMAHA, Neb. - Melissa Jordan and Boenerges Duran had been together for nine years, engaged for one.
Family members had been asking when they’d marry.
Then Jordan, 31, became critically ill, her condition quickly spiraling into liver and kidney failure.
Last week, Debra Reeg and a colleague decided to make the couple’s dream a reality, and she did it with the kindness of strangers.
Reeg, a palliative care nurse practitioner at Creighton University Medical Center-Bergan Mercy, posted on a Facebook wedding group she’s a part of, asking if someone would be willing to donate a dress.
Within minutes, she had her first dress offer. Soon it was 30 or more. Within three hours, Reeg had offers of a cake, hairstyling and makeup help, a photographer, flowers, decorations and food.
“I was just overwhelmed by the generosity of perfect strangers who just wanted to reach out and help,” Reeg said.
On Monday, members of the couple’s families, including Jordan’s parents and brothers from Arizona, gathered around her bed in the intensive care unit. Duran walked down a hallway lined with hospital staff to her bedside, the medical equipment draped in purple, flowers on the tables, a sign overhead reading “Mr. and Mrs.”
Jordan wore a tiara and a wedding dress. Reeg and her team had printed out photos of all the offered dresses — in color — so Jordan could take a page from the popular reality TV show and “Say Yes to the Dress.”
Lorenzo Duran, the groom’s father, officiated.
Jordan, who is on a ventilator to help her breathe, nodded her head yes when the time came to make her vows. Then Duran presented the couple as Mr. and Mrs. Duran amid smiles and tears and cheers, from inside the room and out in the hall. Boenerges Duran spoke briefly of their time together, saying, “You’ve been on my side, and I’ll be on yours, no matter what, and now you’re my wife.”
Elise Chesson of Blair, Jordan’s sister, said she was astounded at the outpouring of support. The sisters had been planning a wedding very slowly, looking at photos on Pinterest and storing away ideas, as prospective brides do.
“I’m just so happy she was able to get her last wish,” Chesson said.
Reeg said the event was especially emotional for her, given her own plans to marry in October. But she’s not planning that one — it will be a destination wedding.
Boenerges Duran, who is with the Nebraska Army National Guard’s 402nd Military Police Battalion, said after the ceremony that he just wanted the day to happen. “Once I saw her, I was like, ‘Wow, that’s really her. That’s my wife. Now and forever,’ ” he said.
When people think of hospitals, he said, they think of a sad place. “But not today,” he said. “Today’s a happy day.”
Duran also thanked those who donated the wedding finery and food for an in-hospital reception. “This means a lot for both of us,” he said.
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