The wedding was bittersweet.
Wayne Chenoweth and Kelsey Moreland planned on getting married in October 2017. The couple, who had been together for five years, had known each other for much longer; they’d grown up around the corner from one another in the same Westminster neighborhood, Wayne a few years older than Kelsey.
But plans changed.
At the time, Wayne’s mother, Marjorie, had been receiving treatment for an aggressive form of lung cancer, and chemotherapy hadn’t been successful. She was in the hospital in July 2017 when her oncologist explained that there were no more treatments available; Kelsey remembers Marjorie being relieved.
The focus now would be on hospice care.
Marjorie was transferred to Dove House, BridgingLife’s inpatient facility in Westminster. Dove House staff heard about the couple’s plans and offered to host their wedding so that Marjorie could be a part of it. “We hurried up and got our marriage license and within 36 hours we were getting married,” Kelsey remembers.
She imagined it would be a quick exchange of vows by Marjorie’s bedside, officiated by Glenn McCrickard, a friend and customer of Wayne’s automotive shop who is now a chaplain with BridgingLife. Instead, it was a walk down the aisle, surrounded by family and friends, complete with flowers, photography, decorations and a cake.
“It all just happened so fast,” Kelsey says. “She passed three days after our wedding; our wedding was the last day that she was awake and alert. I don’t think it really hit us until after. And we were just grateful that she was able to witness it.”
Kelsey had been studying to become a registered nurse with the goal of becoming a hospice nurse after experiencing the loving care that had been given to several family members who had utilized BridgingLife’s services. Her mother-in-law’s experience solidified that decision.
“Leaving this world and entering this world are equally as important,” Kelsey says. “Being born can be a beautiful thing. And death can also be a beautiful thing. It was something I was drawn to. I needed to be able to support others and provide them with the same compassion and care that we had when I had loved ones there.”
Kelsey’s goal was realized about a year ago when she came to work for BridgingLife, first as a nurse case manager, caring for patients in their home, and today as a triage nurse, helping patients and families with care questions they have on the weekend. “It’s definitely been rewarding and fulfilling,” she says. “The families are so appreciative that they have the opportunity to still be with their loved ones and care for them.”
Kelsey is thankful for the wedding memories the Dove House staff were able to help her create and that Marjorie was able to be a part of those memories.
“Many people have stories about their mean mother-in-law, but I couldn’t have been more blessed with the mother-in-law that I was given,” says Kelsey. “Unfortunately, I didn’t get to have the time with her that I wanted.”