Aisle be there for YOU!
Someone cherished was missing Rebecca’s wedding day... but not for long
My new pink top lay on the bed as I slipped off my dressing gown to try it on.
I didn’t normally splash out on clothes, but you only turn 30 once.
Just then, I was interrupted by a ruckus at the bedroom door. ‘I’m getting changed!’ I yelled. Never a moment to myself in this house...
Then, the door crashed open, and my boyfriend of eight years, Scott Alexander, now 27, burst in. Before I could tell him off, he’d crouched down on one knee.
‘Rebecca, I love you, our kids and our crazy life. I want to prove that I’ll be here for ever. Will you marry me?’ he asked, holding out a box with a stunning sparkler inside.
‘Yes!’ The answer was out before I knew it.
I’d always thought marriage wasn’t for me.
But this, I realised, was what my heart wanted.
‘Yay!’ came the cries as our kids – Kaci, now 14, Mercedes, 13, Llewellyn, 10, Ana Lucia, nine, and Malaki, six – piled into the room.
‘Here,’ said Scott, thrusting a phone into my hand. Squeals echoed from it.
It was my mum, Belinda, 55, followed quickly by my youngest sister, Vanessa, 22.
‘He’s been planning it for weeks,’ she cooed. ‘I’ve been bursting to tell you, Becky!’
‘Thanks, Nessie,’ I replied. ‘Now you have to help me plan it!’
I smiled at Scott. The proposal had been perfect. A family affair.
And nothing was more important to me than family.
The eldest of four sisters, I’d felt like a mum long before I ever became one.
Growing up, if
Nessie or my other sisters, Lindsay, 28, and Jacqueline, 23, needed anything, I was there for them.
So when I became a mum to Kaci at 18, it felt like the most natural thing in the world.
Fast-forward four years and I was living in a hostel in Nottingham – on the run from a bad relationship, with nothing to my name other than Kaci, four, Mercedes, three, and a big baby bump.
It wasn’t ideal, but it was a fresh start and, at least, Mum and Nessie lived nearby.
Scott was the man who made me believe in love again.
When we’d first started chatting in the hostel kitchen, romance couldn’t have been further from my mind.
But eight months later, Scott, then 17, was a firm fixture in our lives.
He’d been a huge support when Llewellyn was born, and helped us move into a house.
Despite his friendship, I felt unsettled in Nottingham.
‘I’m thinking of moving back to Wales,’ I told him. Scott looked upset.
‘I know things are tough,’ he said. ‘But you’re not alone. I’m here for you.’
Right then, something changed between us.
This teenager suddenly seemed mature, manly in a way I’d never noticed before. I felt drawn to him. When we started dating, he had a confession.
‘I’ve fancied you for months,’ he said. ‘I just didn’t want to spoil our friendship.’
My little ones adored him, and Scott moved in.
A year later, our daughter Ana Lucia was born, followed by Malaki three years after.
Our lives were full. With five kids, two jobs and Scott working long hours in a warehouse, there was little time to plan a wedding.
‘Good job I’m here then,’ laughed Nessie, plucking ideas out of wedding magazines.
Kaci had the brilliant idea to set the date for 6 May 2017 – the 10-year anniversary of when me and Scott had first met.
For someone who never wanted to get married, overnight I became Bridezilla!
Luckily, my sisters rallied round to help organise things.
So five months before the big day, in December
2016, the plans were in place when Mum called.
‘Vanessa’s been rushed to hospital,’ she said, panicked.
After suffering stomach pains, Nessie had collapsed in A&E.
She’d been admitted to the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham for tests.
I got there as quickly as I possibly could.
Deathly pale, she’d been put on a saline drip and morphine for the pain.
Despite everything, she reassured us she was OK.
Even after doctors diagnosed her with Crohn’s disease, she managed to stay upbeat.
It looked hopeful that the disease, though incurable,
My heart ached to see her wasting away
could be managed with medication and a restricted diet.
‘I’m going to get well for your wedding,’ vowed Nessie.
Over the next fortnight, I squeezed in hospital visits between my day job at a school and my evening work as a community carer.
Things were looking positive. The treatment was working.
Then, a frantic call from Lindsay changed everything...
‘It was awful,’ cried Lindsay. ‘Nessie was screaming in pain.’
At the hospital, the consultant told me that our sister needed emergency surgery. ‘Her bowel has ruptured,’ he said gravely.
‘If we don’t operate now, she’ll die.’
Mum was shaking so much, I had to sign the consent form.
For more than six hours, surgeons battled to save her. There were some complications, but they managed to remove her bowel and fit a colostomy bag.
A nurse advised us to go home, but I refused to leave until I’d seen Nessie.
Although I knew how ill she was, it still came as a shock. They’d had to cut from her breast bone down to her pelvis.
She was hooked up to every machine imaginable.
Still heavily sedated, she managed a weak smile.
‘It hurts,’ she whispered. The next day, I gave up my job as a community carer to spend more time caring for Nessie.
Within days, she was bouncing back, sitting up and laughing.
‘What’s the plan for your hen do? I can’t wait!’ she smiled.
It was four months away, in April. Plenty of time for Nessie to recover.
In fact, her doctor said she’d be home by early January. Everything was going to be OK. But later that week, Nessie had a fit and her heart stopped.
Medics brought her back. But her scar burst open, revealing an infection in her abdomen.
A drain was fitted to remove the infection, but I could see the pain written all over her face.
She stopped drinking and eating and began bringing up bile. Waste from her bowel was leaking into her stomach, poisoning her.
My heart ached to see my little sister wasting away before my eyes. Her weight plummeted from 12st to just 6st, and her hair fell out in thick clumps.
April came and still no improvement. Nessie couldn’t come to my hen do.
‘At least I’ll be there for the wedding,’ she said.
I wasn’t so sure.
‘I think we should postpone it until you’re better,’ I told Nessie. But she wouldn’t hear of it. ‘You and Scott have to do it on your anniversary. I wouldn’t forgive myself,’ she sobbed.
Then, three days before the wedding, the doctor confirmed that Nessie was far too frail to attend.
But there was no way I was getting married without her.
With a few phone calls,
I put my plan in to action.
On the morning of the wedding, I got ready at home as planned.
But instead of heading to the register office, I took the car to the hospital with Lindsay and Jacqueline.
I couldn’t wait to see Nessie. I marched down the corridor, veil trailing behind me.
By the time I got near her bed, a crowd of medics and patients had gathered.
And then she saw me. The look on her frail face – shock, awe, love – made my breath catch in my throat.
A split second later,
I was scooping her into my arms. We were sobbing so hard, we could barely speak.
‘Oh, my God, you look totally amazing,’ she croaked.
‘You’ll ruin my makeup,’ I joked as tears ran down my face. Carefully, I laid her head back on the pillow. ‘What are you doing here?’ she asked.
‘I couldn’t get married without you,’ I smiled, setting up a laptop in front of her on the hospital bed.
Scott had arranged for the whole day to be live-streamed so Nessie could watch. She was ecstatic. I could see a glint of the old Nessie sparkle in her eyes. She even managed to stand for a photo before I left.
‘I’m so happy,’ she told us, emotionally.
Until that moment, I hadn’t been able to feel excited about my wedding day. It was tainted. But now, I felt joy. I couldn’t wait to become Scott’s wife. From her hospital bed, Nessie had a front-row seat, while me and Scott made our vows. She was ‘there’ throughout the reception, the speeches and our first dance. She didn’t miss a thing.
Now, Nessie is doing much better. She’s put on a couple of stone, and has been discharged from hospital.
She’s back in the heart of our family, right where she belongs – the best wedding present I ever could have hoped for.
If Nessie couldn’t come to the wedding, I’d just have to bring it to her instead! Me and Scott wanted the whole family to be there
My poor sis broke down when I arrived L-R: Me, Lindsay, Jacqueline and Nessie