Here’s a truly beautiful and heart-wrenching love story that will bring a tear to even the most stoic. Joan and Craig, two 44-year-olds from Liverpool, have known each other for 30 years. Even though they met when they were only 14, Craig immediately knew Joan was the one for him.
“I fell in love with her as soon as I set my eyes on her when we were 14. I was a bit shy about it and Joan has been married previously, but it has always been about Joan for me — she is the woman of my dreams,” Craig said to the Daily Mail. Nearly three decades later, Joan and Craig reunited and started dating. Eighteen months ago, he confessed his love to her aboard a ferry on the River Mersey and later proposed to her while holding a milkshake at McDonalds. “That is our little heaven, enjoying the simple things, as long as we’re together,” Joan said to CBS News.
They finally got married last week, and while it was ultimately a happy occasion, tears of sadness were also shed, because Craig has less than a year to live.
This past August, Craig was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. The couple dealt with the devastating blow the only way they knew how — they set out to enjoy every moment they had left together. “We decided to do all the things we wanted to do but never did,” Joan said to CBS. One of those things was get married to each other, but Joan had another first up her sleeve that she revealed to her now-husband at their reception.
With the help of her good friend Amy Walsh and Craig’s barber, Joan shaved her head in honor of her husband in front of him and all her guests. Naturally people were shocked, but all Craig could see was this amazing woman who he knew would stand by him, no matter what.
“It was the obviously the first time I had seen Joan without her hair, and she looked beautiful, absolutely stunning,” Craig told the Daily Mail. Anyone not sobbing their faces off right now?
“It was very emotional… seeing the love and pride Craig had for his wife,” said the couple’s wedding photographer, Kimberley Struth. Craig and Joan received Struth’s incredible photography skills free of charge as part of a charity program called Gift of a Wedding. The organization helps provide a wedding to couples who are dealing with terminal illness.
However, Joan and Craig took it one step further. They used their wedding to raise money for various charities including Macmillan Cancer Support, Zoé’s Place Hospice and Woodlands Hospice. Joan’s hair went to Little Princess Trust, which makes wigs for children who’ve lost their hair due to cancer treatment.
“In the face of some really bad news, they are courageous enough to keep raising money for other people,” Struth told CBS.”It takes a really special person to be able to do that.”
Despite Craig’s diagnosis, the couple remains happy newlyweds. Joan considers herself lucky that such a wonderful man chose her, and that she gets to spend any amount of time with him.
It’s incredibly rare to meet such strong, generous people, or to witness such selfless acts of love. While I wasn’t there, knowing their story exists restores my faith in humanity, at least for now.
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