A Florida couple who wed in 2013 finally got the chance to share their first dance after the groom, who was paralyzed in a 2009 car accident, stood up for the first time during a physical therapy session this month.
Lauren and Joel Jackson, both 26, met as teenagers in South Carolina, according to the couple’s blog. Though they occasionally lost touch and became involved with other people, a visit after the car accident reignited something between them, Lauren wrote.
The accident, which killed another passenger, separated Joel’s spine from his head, broke his jaw and robbed him of his ability to speak, NBC News reported. He was placed in a coma while doctors worked to fuse his spine together.
“As I understand it, the doctors just said, ‘this is as good as his life is ever going to be. Make him comfortable,’” Lauren told the news site.
But Lauren continued to visit and they communicated with equipment that relied on Joel’s eyes to operate a computer. They reunited as friends in 2009, leading to their marriage in September 2013. Joel mouthed “I do,” during their vows and Lauren sat on his lap for their first dance to the song “I’ll Be” by Edwin McCain.
“But I told him, ‘When you can talk, I want to renew our vows. And when you can walk, I want you to dance with me,” Lauren told Joel, according to NBC News.
Finally, at Brooks Rehabilitation Center in Jacksonville, with Joel suspended from a body weigh-support system, the couple shared the first dance Lauren asked for.
Joel told NBC News with the help of a computer that the dance was “euphoric.”
“The little things mean so much to us,” Lauren told the news station.
Bob McIver, manager of Brooks Rehabilitation’s Neuro Recovery Center, told NBC News that therapists aren’t sure of the potential Joel has, as he has never had proper physical therapy before. The center is continuing to work with Joel to help him regain strength and body movement.
The couple sells paintings and other artwork that Joel creates on their blog, and they hope to raise money for a home that Joel can comfortably live in. They currently live with his father as neither one has been able to return to work. Prior to his accident, Lauren had studied interior design and Joel had gone to culinary school, according to their blog.