When we say, ‘I do’, we are making a vow to commit ourselves to the person we love for the rest of our lives, no matter how fleeting that time may be.
Julian and Lucy celebrated their wedding at St Helena Hospice in December with their five-month-old baby Everlie, dog Bowser, family, and friends.
When Julian was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, the couple decided to make an everlasting commitment to one another with the precious time they had left.
Julian sadly died in the hospice, not long after their wedding. Below we reflect on that magical day they shared.
Julian, who said the day was “surreal”, wore his dream suit and Lucy wore a stunning gown, both gifted by Abigail's Collection and The Groom’s Room in Colchester.
Lucy said: “I had the full bridal shopping experience choosing a dress with my mum, and they came to the house to measure Julian for his suit. It was really incredible. One of our friends Ella, who runs a local coffee shop called Table in Earl’s Colne, is basically our fairy godmother. She made a wedding cake for us, got my hair and makeup arranged, and got in touch with the bridal shop for our wedding outfits. So, we were gifted everything, which is incredible. My brother is a barber and cut his hair and beard, and then he and my dad got him ready for the big day.
“Having the wedding at the Hospice actually did feel like a wedding venue. The lounge is so lovely, it really did feel like the real deal, it really felt lovely.
“Bowser didn't leave his side all day. All Julian’s brothers came, and best friends, and family, everyone needed to witness him in a suit because he's a tracksuit person!”
Before Julian arrived at St Helena Hospice, he was supported at home by clinical nurse specialist Michaela, who he describes as his “favourite nurse ever.” He continued: “What doesn’t she do? She makes sure everything’s right. Because we're so open and forward about it, she doesn’t tread on thin ice.”
Lucy added: “She keeps things light-hearted. She's got the same dark sense of humour as us, which we really like and she's very direct with us, in a nice way. She knows that she can just talk to us openly and honestly. We love her, she's like an Angel.”
Michaela arranged for the couple to visit the hospice to have complementary therapy and to have a look around so if they felt like they needed to stay, they would know what it is like. And now staying at the hospice, Lucy said: “It's the safest place for him so that we've still got some quality and that we can relax, make sure he is well looked after, and that we get to just chill together as Mr and Mrs Fiano. It means that we can actually enjoy time as a couple rather than as career/ patient. It's nice now that someone else gets to do the caring side and I get to just be his wife now.
“We just get to relax now. Someone else gets to do all the medical stuff, which is nice, and it's much more relaxing for both of us. It just means we can enjoy time instead of worrying about how we're going to do the next thing.”
Julian is enjoying being pampered during his stay: “Everyone is lovely. I had a massage. It’s about spending the most time safely together towards the end because we haven't had time to chill. It's safe here. At first, they offered to have all this done at home, but I don’t want to die at home. If I'm going to die somewhere, it's got to be here.”
Thanks to St Helena Hospice, Julian and Lucy were able to use their time to focus on each other. Being able to enjoy the time they have left as husband and wife, rather than patient and carer.
Until you experience firsthand what a hospice can do, it is difficult to fully comprehend their importance.
In the hospice you are treated as an individual, with care that is tailored to your needs. With the mounting pressures on the NHS, this care is simply not possible in a hospital environment.
To find out more about the incredible support St Helena Hospice provides to those facing incurable illness and bereavement, visit their website here.