‘My hus­band died on our wed­ding day’

Heather Costa was only 21 and knew she wanted to spend the rest of her life with Jordan. But just hours af­ter they mar­ried, and were on their way to their hon­ey­moon, tragedy struck

Friday - - Making A Difference -

Star­ing at the cin­ema screen, I had to strug­gle not to smile. I was sit­ting next to Jordan Costa on our first date – and 10 min­utes in I knew he’d be my hus­band. He was hand­some, clever, a gen­tle­man, and my age – 19. “That was great,” he said when the film fin­ished, but to be hon­est, I couldn’t re­mem­ber any­thing about it.

I was too busy clutch­ing the stuffed toy dog he’d given me at the start of the evening and think­ing about our fu­ture to­gether.

We’d met by chance when Jordan was vis­it­ing friends near where I live in Michi­gan, Ohio, US. He was from Mas­sachusetts – around 900km away – and we started talk­ing.

He told me he was at col­lege do­ing bi­b­li­cal stud­ies, and so we shared a strong sense of faith and how we wanted to live our lives.

“I want a fam­ily,” I blurted out, and he grinned. “Me too,” he nod­ded. I think I was al­ready in love – and

it re­ally had been at first sight. We spent ev­ery mo­ment we could to­gether, and very quickly re­alised we couldn’t be apart for even a minute.

“Come and live near me,” I begged. Within a fort­night of our first date, Jordan agreed to move across the coun­try so we could be to­gether.

He moved in with my aunt Mar­garet and found a job at the lo­cal church, while I was plan­ning to do a de­gree in psy­chol­ogy.

“I love you,” he’d whis­per to me. “You too,’’ I’d say, grate­ful that I’d met the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with so young.

And then one day, in April 2012, af­ter we’d been dat­ing for two years, Jordan asked to speak to me af­ter a meet­ing at church. “Come here,” he said, ush­er­ing me to one side.

I had no idea what he was do­ing and I was half an­noyed as I was late to get home. The next thing I knew he took out his iPad from be­hind his back and held up the screen for me to read. “What are you do­ing?’’ I asked. But I couldn’t stay an­noyed – there on the screen were some ro­man­tic lines that he’d found about love.

“It’s beau­ti­ful,” I smiled. Then I looked up and gasped. Jordan was down on one knee. He then reached out for my hand and said “I love you. Will you marry me?”

It was so un­ex­pected, and so lovely that I burst out cry­ing. “Yes, yes yes!’’ I bab­bled, ex­cited. I didn’t need a sec­ond to think. Jordan was per­fect – in­tel­li­gent, funny and car­ing.

He would al­ways bring home ice cream be­cause he knew I loved it. And he would do any­thing just to make me happy. He’d laugh eas­ily, and loved watch­ing re­runs of Friends. We’d curl up on the sofa watch­ing the show and chat­ting.

“My dream is to work with young people,” he used to tell me.

My par­ents loved Jordan too, and hugged us when we told them we were get­ting mar­ried. “I don’t want to wait,” I said, and be­gan plan­ning a small wed­ding for the fol­low­ing May.

I had eight brides­maids, a white satin gown, and around 100 guests. It was at a church in Can­ton, Michi­gan.

I was only 21, but star­ing at my in me. Then it was time to cut our two-tier wed­ding cake.

Some­how Jordan guessed that I was go­ing to grab some and smash it into his face for a joke – we were al­ways be­ing silly like that – and so he got there first, smear­ing ic­ing on my cheek and sur­pris­ing me.

“This is the day I have been dream­ing of,” he whis­pered in my ear. The af­ter­noon flew by and soon it was time to leave for our week-long hon­ey­moon.

We’d de­cided to drive to Myr­tle Beach in Cal­i­for­nia. I changed out of my wed­ding dress and hugged and kissed good­bye to my fam­ily and the other guests.

The jour­ney was go­ing to take 12 hours, but we didn’t mind as we thought it would be a great way to see places and spend time to­gether.

“I’m go­ing to do all the driv­ing,” Jordan said, slip­ping be­hind the wheel of our Ford Es­cape.

Al­though I could drive, he wanted to this time be­cause I’d done all the driv­ing on our last road trip.

Af­ter say­ing our vows I rushed to changemy face­book sta­tus to mar­ried

my wed­ding dress, I couldn’t have been hap­pier.

“I can’t wait to be Mrs Costa,” I gig­gled. But I felt overwhelmed when I saw Jordan in his dash­ing suit, turn­ing to watch me walk down the aisle. He was grin­ning and I thought I’d cry, I was so happy.

We held hands as we said our vows, and look­ing into Jordan’s eyes I thought, “Could I be any luck­ier?”

Our re­cep­tion was in a barn that we’d dec­o­rated. We hired a DJ and our first dance was to Un­fail­ing Love by Jimmy Need­ham.

As soon as we fin­ished I rushed to change my Face­book sta­tus to ‘mar­ried’ and posted a pic­ture of us.

“This is the hap­pi­est day of my life,” I told my mother as she hugged

As al­ways, from the mo­ment we set off, we couldn’t stop talk­ing – about the wed­ding, our dreams, all the things we wanted to do and the places we wanted to see.

We were around six hours into our trip on In­ter­state 77 in Jef­fer­son Town­ship, Ohio, around 580km away from home, when I asked Jordan if he minded if I took a nap as I felt re­ally

sleepy. “Go ahead, dar­ling,” he said. Al­though it was late evening, the vis­i­bil­ity was good and there wasn’t much traf­fic. So I pushed back my seat and closed my eyes. Ev­ery­thing faded to black for a mo­ment and then sud­denly Jordan’s voice jolted me awake.

“Oh no, help us!’’ he screamed. I opened my eyes and there was a truck right next to us – in Jordan’s blind spot. There was no time to be scared as it hap­pened so quickly.

Jordan swerved to avoid the truck, which was com­ing up on his left, and then we were ca­reer­ing to­wards the cen­tral reser­va­tion. Ev­ery­thing slowed down and yet I wasn’t scared.

I re­mem­ber think­ing “The truck is too close to the car,” and then I saw the cen­tral bar­rier rac­ing to­wards our car. I braced my­self, putting my hand on to the dash­board. With the other hand I gripped the han­dle above the win­dow and grit­ted my teeth.

I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t do any­thing but wait for the im­pact…

Jordan was scream­ing “Help us, some­body help us!” But the next mo­ment the car smashed into the bar­rier and flipped over.

We were rolling, and rolling, the world spin­ning upside down. “It’s go­ing to be OK,” I told my­self. I just knew that if I closed my eyes, and then opened them I would be safe.

I was tum­bling, try­ing to hold on. Metal crunched on tar­mac, glass shat­tered and I lost my­self, sur­ren­dered to it as we rolled.

Then we slowed and stopped and I opened my eyes. We were on the other side of the bar­rier, up­right in the op­po­site lane.

Fear thud­ded through me now. The noise had stopped. All I could hear was si­lence. I could smell fuel and smoke and burnt rub­ber – it was so strong my nos­trils flared, my eyes wa­tered. “I’m alive,” I thought, shocked, and then I looked at Jordan.

He was un­con­scious, slumped over the steer­ing wheel and there was blood every­where. There was a gash on his fore­head and blood was pour­ing out. also scream­ing for some­body to help. I didn’t know where my phone was to call the po­lice or am­bu­lance, but I couldn’t leave Jordan – he was bleed­ing too much.

I just hoped that some­one else had seen the crash and called for help. “Jordan,” I cried, hop­ing he would come round. “Wake up Jordan.”

Mo­ments dragged by. I kept call­ing out to him and pray­ing and hop­ing he would be all right. At one point my heart soared when Jordan seemed to cough and blood poured from his nose and mouth, but then noth­ing.

The am­bu­lance ar­rived in a few sec­onds and the next thing I knew there were people sur­round­ing our car. The emer­gency ser­vices checked Jordan’s pulse and then shook their heads at each other and said “No”.

I didn’t un­der­stand what they meant. I was too weak, and pan­ick­ing. Mirac­u­lously, I was fine – I had a few bruises and cuts but other­wise was not in any great pain.

I just wanted to know that Jordan was OK. I was in shock though and as the am­bu­lance men were with Jordan, an­other man checked on me.

“How is my hus­band?” I kept ask­ing. “What is hap­pen­ing to Jordan?” But no­body would tell me any­thing. I was led to an am­bu­lance while the men were still check­ing Jordan. “Just re­lax,” a medic told me.

I begged for a phone and called my mum. “We have been in a crash and I’m not sure if Jordan is go­ing to make it,’’ I said, numb and un­able to be­lieve what had hap­pened.

It was all a blur and I could hardly fo­cus. All I cared about was find­ing out about Jordan, but through the fear I heard Mum say­ing she and Dad were on their way to me and would bring my best friends Brittany and Austin too.

Hang­ing up, I was taken to hospi­tal and checked for in­ter­nal in­juries. “You’re very lucky,” a doc­tor told me. I nod­ded, look­ing out all the time for Jordan. “He’ll be OK,” I kept telling my­self. But sit­ting in the hospi­tal bed, I knew as soon as the two po­lice of­fi­cers walked into my room that Jordan had not made it – it was writ­ten all over their faces.

And at that mo­ment, my life fell apart. “No, it can’t be,” I told the of­fi­cers. “We just got mar­ried this af­ter­noon. He can’t be gone.” Then the tears came and I just cried and

I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t do any­thing but wait for the im­pact…

“Jordan,” I screamed. “Jordan wake up, please.” But he was mo­tion­less.

Un­do­ing my seat belt, I clam­bered over and used my hands to try and put pres­sure on the wound on his head to stop it from bleed­ing. I was

cried, my en­tire body shak­ing. Just hours ear­lier I had ex­cit­edly changed my Face­book pro­file to say that I was mar­ried, and now here I was, a widow at the age of 21.

It just didn’t seem real and I prayed I would wake up and find out that it’d been some aw­ful nightmare.

But the aw­ful truth sank in and, cry­ing, I picked up the phone the po­lice of­fi­cer gave me and told my par­ents: “Jordan didn’t make it”.

The line was aw­ful. “What did you say?” Mum asked, and I re­peated it.

It was my par­ents who told Jordan’s fam­ily he’d passed away – I wasn’t strong enough to do that.

When Mum and Dad fi­nally ar­rived at the hospi­tal I just fell into their arms and sobbed. My mum kept stroking my head telling me ev­ery­thing was go­ing to be OK, but I knew it wouldn’t. Jordan was dead, and I didn’t know how I was go­ing to cope with­out him.

Iwas re­leased shortly af­ter and when I walked back into my bed­room at my par­ents’ house, mem­bers of our church had al­ready been in to take away all the wed­ding gifts we’d left there to open when we re­turned from our hon­ey­moon.

In their place were notes of en­cour­age­ment and sup­port from people of­fer­ing their con­do­lences and sup­port. I could not sleep and Mum sat with me on my bed and we just hugged each other for sev­eral hours.

On aThurs­day, just five days af­ter Jordan and I had been mar­ried, in the same church we had Jordan’s fu­neral.

Still now that day is a blur and I have no idea how I even got through it. I cried con­stantly af­ter­wards – just look­ing at a photo, or one of Jordan’s T-shirts made me burst into tears.

The pain is in­de­scrib­able, it’s raw and overwhelming. Many of my friends didn’t know what to say, as it was hard for any­one to cope with the fact I was so grief stricken. In­stead they

I was lucky enough to ex­pe­ri­ence true love, and for that I’m grate­ful

sim­ply sat with me so I didn’t feel alone and had some­one there for when I felt like talk­ing.

Ten months on and I’m still numb. There is noth­ing about the jour­ney of grief that is easy and all I can do is take one day at a time.

For a while I had a recurring nightmare where I would see Jordan cov­ered in blood in the car and I would wake up gasp­ing for air.

It got to the stage where I knew I needed help to try and get over what had hap­pened, and so now I see a grief coun­sel­lor.

At first I couldn’t have any of Jordan’s things up in my room, but now I find com­fort in hav­ing them near me.

I sleep with Jordan’s old pil­low and the stuffed toy he gave me on our first date – and even have his old socks and some of his T-shirts.

I also have three photo al­bums of our wed­ding day, which I spend hours look­ing at and re­mem­ber­ing the day I once thought was the best of my life.

I mar­ried so young be­cause I didn’t want to live an­other minute of my life with­out be­ing Jordan’s wife.

I just wish with all my heart that I had got to be his wife for longer than a day.

But I wouldn’t change meet­ing Jordan for any­thing.

Some people never meet their soul­mate and even though we didn’t have long to­gether, I was lucky enough to ex­pe­ri­ence true love, and for that I am eter­nally grate­ful.

Jordan was the most hand­some man I’d met

We were so happy on our wed­ding day

The way he pro­posed took my breath away’

REAL LIFE We’d gone on sev­eral short trips be­fore our mar­riage

Jordan loved play­ing pranks – even on our wed­ding day

Jordan with his friends on our wed­ding day

REAL LIFE

I have so many happy mem­o­ries of our re­la­tion­ship

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