07 July 2011

The Bride Wore A Smile

You may recall I recently shared the story of young Beth Dobson, a Crohnie in the United Kingdom whose condition is so advanced it will certainly kill her unless a radical new--and life-endangering--treatment succeeds.  Miss Dobson wasn't properly diagnosed until age 11 and is only now 20.  Before taking chemotherapy to eradicate her immune system (in anticipation for which she has already shaved her head), though, she was hellbent on marrying the young man she loves, Ian Townsend.  She hasn't had much go her way in life, but Miss Dobson is now Mrs. Townsend.

I can't say exactly why her story has resonated so strongly with me.  On a selfish note, I have a vested interest in knowing whether the treatment she's about to undergo will prove itself viable for me down the road.  I've "met" numerous Crohnies via the Internet, but not Mrs. Townsend so there's not even been any direct contact with her to personalize her story.

It breaks my heart to think of anyone young with this god-awful disease.  I at least got to make it through high school and my associate's degree before Crohn's became an issue for me.  In my early adulthood I was able to travel to Chicago several times, Las Vegas and even Barbados.  In 2001 and in 2002, I spent an entire week with a friend going around the country catching a baseball game in a different city each night.  I stayed up way too late with friends or coworkers, eating whatever I pleased, sometimes drinking whatever I pleased.  I've enjoyed flaking out in a hammock with a cigar.  I know what it's like to have a couple of beers at a crowded ballpark, with some nachos and a hot dog with sauerkraut and not think twice about it.  I stood in line literally for hours with my friends and my brother to get Garth Brooks concert tickets.  I camped outside a local Cinemark movie theater with friends and hundreds of other geeks to get tickets to see Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace.

Beth Townsend never had a chance to do any of those things.  Granted, I suspect she may not even want to do many of them, but that's not the point.  When I read that all she wanted going into this treatment was to have the chance to exchange vows with the man she loved, it reminded me how special my own wedding was.  I wasn't even sure I was going to feel well enough to leave the apartment that day, but thankfully I was.  The ceremony went swimmingly and my wife and I both enjoyed the reception.  So far as we know, our guests--all family and friends close enough they may as well be family--shared in our enjoyment of the entire affair.  Every ceremony and reception is unique, and yet they're almost all part of a universal experience.  I wish that experience for everyone who wants it for themselves, which is part of why I'm such an ardent supporter of marriage equality.

What awaits Beth Townsend, of course, remains to be seen but it warmed my heart to see the wedding photos published online.  At least this is one experience she deserved.  I hope it's the first of many yet to come.