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Some­one cher­ished was miss­ing Re­becca’s wed­ding day... but not for long

Real People - - PUZZLE TRAIL - Re­becca Alexan­der, 32, Not­ting­ham Nessie, 22, said, ‘Re­becca looked ab­so­lutely gor­geous – I was blown away. I couldn’t be­lieve it when she walked in to the hos­pi­tal room, it was a com­plete sur­prise. It’s been a tough road but I’m so thank­ful to my friend

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

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