The words for this blog will fall short. Nothing I (Amy) can say will fully explain the magnitude of the emotions on Melissa and Travis’ wedding day.
What I can tell you, is it all starts with Emily Bell.
29 years ago, Emily’s parents, Lester and Bridget Bell, said goodbye to their sweet 10 month old baby girl. In their most sorrowful moment, they chose to give life. They signed the paperwork and Emily’s heart was no longer her own. She didn’t need it any longer when she entered the kingdom God had created for her. Melissa did need it though and at just 10 days old, Melissa became the youngest known recipient of a heart transplant. Emily’s heart would go on- it would allow dreams to come true for more than just one. To give someone the greatest joy, at your deepest sorrow- is the greatest gift one can give. It is a gift we can all choose to give. Unless you work in the medical field, the chance to save a life seems slim, but it isn’t. It is as simple as a signature on a driver’s license. More often than not, that simple signature saves more than just one.
Melissa’s perfect heart would allow her to laugh, run, and play. It would allow her parent’s to rock her to sleep. It would allow her brother to pick on her. It would allow her sister to have her best friend. It would allow her to graduate high school. It would allow her to fall in love and become a beautiful bride. Thus far, it has given 29 years of a wonderful life to a woman who may not have even had 29 days without it. Her life has been beautiful, but it hasn’t always been easy.
When you are a transplant recipient, you are placed on medication for life to ensure the organs remain a perfect fit. Those medications come at a price. In Melissa’s case, it was her kidneys. The first time Melissa needed a kidney, the woman who first gave her life (her own mother) stepped up to once again provide life to her daughter. Not long after, the need for another kidney arose and a beautiful woman named Cindy gave her kidney to a complete stranger. Melissa is no longer a complete stranger though, Cindy stood by her side as Melissa married the man of her dreams, Travis.
I know I usually post more about the couple. If I know Travis though, and I think I do, he would rather this story be told. He would hold the door open for Emily and Melissa as their story went ahead of him. He would silently sit by their hospital bed and provide support expecting nothing in return. All I can say, Travis, is as a parent of two little girls- if my daughter’s heart were to go on without her I would be thrilled that heart had grown to love a man like you. May you both be forever grateful for the gift you have in one another, and in the gift you were given almost 29 years ago.
I got to spend the day with one of my besties (Kurtis Hall).
Knowing he is fairly awesome, I asked him to cover travis getting ready. I think he did alright. ; )
I can’t speak for Kurtis but this is the moment I lost it behind my camera.
Being the mom of two little girls and remembering the joy they brought at only 10 months, I have to say this was the most heartbreakingly beautiful moment of any wedding I have ever attended. A beautiful soul walked down the aisle as the people who saved her watched their Emily’s heart make a journey their daughter would not.
(I may or may not have lost it again as I typed that)
Each person in this picture made a selfless choice.
Lester and Bridget’s little girl’s heart beats inside Melissa’s chest.
Mom and Cindy became live donors and each gave a kidney.
(not pictured- Melissa’s wonderful sister also chose to become a live donor and donated her kidney to a complete stranger)
Many daughters wonder if they will get this dance with their dad.
Hers spent many nights worrying they would never have the opportunity.
Travis and Melissa, dance through everything. Every raindrop, every sunset.
The image below I took as a “Thank You” to the three wonderful donors who brought Melissa and Travis to this moment.
Last but not least, please consider signing up to give the gift of life.
A single organ donor can save up to EIGHT lives. In addition to that, enhance the lives of up to 50!
If there is one last gift you can give the world, this is it.