Ray Navarro and his wife, Norina, are still catching their breaths after a dramatic twelve hours. Navarro sprinted to make sure he could marry the love of his life before it was too late. The day before, the couple met with Norina’s oncology team to discuss her cancer treatment. Her stats weren’t improving as they had hoped and the doctors told her that if she wanted to get married, she had better do so quickly.
The couple already had plans to be married. Everything was ready to go, including the dress, the rings and even the marriage certificate. But they were planning to get married in a church.
Ray couldn’t sleep that night and woke up the next morning with the insatiable urge to tie the knot. He looked over at Norina lying in a hospital bed and said, “We’re getting married today,” before running out the door.
“I wanted to make a promise to her that our love is forever,” Ray said. He started calling family from around the state and told them they were going to be married at Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston. Their loved ones hopped in the car and made the hours-long commute to see the impromptu ceremony in person.
Norina’s team of ICU nurses decorated her room. They asked her if she’d rather get married in the hospital chapel, and she said yes, so they had to find a special hospital bed that could fit through the doors. The chaplain assessed her cognitive abilities to make sure she was mentally fit to agree to the marriage. The nurses helped the bride into her dress and brought in cupcakes for the celebration. Her friends came by with flowers and helped Norina with her hair and makeup.
“It was phenomenal,” Norina said. “The love with which everybody did it really made it a happy day for us.”
They exchanged vows in the hospital chapel around 12 hours after Ray first told Norina they were getting married. Thirty of their closest friends and family gathered around to watch them commemorate their love for one another.
“Our vows were so, so meaningful,” Norina said. “Saying them to him and knowing how much he meant them to me —that was the most significant standout of the day. The solemnity of the commitment was really important to me.”
The ceremony took a lot out of her, but she was able to enjoy a cupcake with her friends and family after it was all said and done. “It was not quite a reception, but as close to one as we could get,” she said.
The nurses transferred Norina to hospice care not long after the wedding but knowing they were married gave her some much-needed peace of mind.
“I am so happy to be married to her,” Ray said. “We lay together, and we hold hands. We call each other ‘hubby’ and ‘wifey.’ It is new, but it was a long time coming.”
The wedding gave them hope during this difficult time.
“For something as precious as this to occur is really, really important,” she said.