10/25/2012 11:46 am ET Updated Dec 25, 2012

I Spent My First Wedding Anniversary In the Emergency Room

It was my wedding day, August 20, 1999. It was in a county courthouse, but I didn't care; I wore a $99.00 (not a typo) wedding dress proudly into the courtroom. The reception was in my backyard with home-cooked food. We didn't have much money, but we were young and very much in love.

I should mention that my parents did not attend or approve of the wedding. My mother, especially, was not happy because she believed he didn't make enough money and wouldn't be a fit husband. She actually showed up at my reception with the police to have my maid of honor removed. The maid of honor was my sister. At the time she was only 15 -- she was removed because she was a minor, at the request of my mother.

Fast forward to our one year anniversary, August 20, 2000. In the morning, you would find my husband and I getting ready for a very exciting day/evening in downtown Chicago. That is, until my phone rang and on the other end was my mother (who I hadn't talked to in a year) telling me to get to the hospital because my 16-year-old sister was on life support. She was in a very serious car accident. My sister Vicki recovered from the accident and my mother and I began to talk again -- a blessing in disguise.

I wish the story ended here, but it doesn't. As a matter of fact, let's go to our three-year anniversary! Dare we celebrate?! Nope, back in the ER with my sister who at that time was 17 and now diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. I can honestly say my husband and I stopped celebrating anniversaries after this, but the bond between my parents and my husband and I was strong by this point. My sister Vicki fought her battle for six years, in and out of remission. At the end of her sixth year she was in remission and in good spirits. My husband and I started to discuss the idea of getting remarried in my mother's beautiful backyard like she always wanted, and it would be the wedding I dreamed of because my mother would lovingly approve and attend. Unfortunately, in May 2007, my sister lost her battle with cancer after seven years of fighting and thus began the grief and healing process. In 2008 we decided to think about planning our vow renewal but then my mom was diagnosed and lost her battle with cancer eight months later in 2009. My dad remarried mother's day weekend in 2011. So I thought, my turn! So here I sit, with wedding ideas on Pinterest, wondering if I should plan my vow renewal for 2014 to a wonderful man I met in 1996 and married in 1999. I have to say I am hesitant to go forth considering my luck in planning. My aunt was just diagnosed with Leukemia.

Even though I may never throw myself my own wedding, I am still happily married to a wonderful man who, every day, tells me I am beautiful and that he loves me. He is my love, a love that I will love forever, who will never intentionally hurt me, is always there to listen -- a love that would die for me or die without me, my best friend, my best love, Andy!