DURHAM, N.C. — A man suffering from congestive heart failure married the love of his life last month at a North Carolina hospital.
It was his dying wish. Jeff Benesch, 49, died Thursday morning. His death happened a week after he married Sarah Myler, 47, at Duke University Hospital on March 26, WRAL reported.
They met on Facebook nine years ago, and their relationship blossomed, Myler told the television station,
“It ended up being very much love at first sight, and we have been together ever since,” Myler said Tuesday. “He’s my soul mate.”
The couple is from Martinsville, Virginia, but Myler slept nightly in the Durham hospital with her husband, WTVD reported.
”We had our honeymoon night here at the hospital. My sister had dinner delivered for us so we had a nice fancy dinner that night,” Myler told the television station. “We have a ‘just married’ sign on our door, (and) a ‘please do not disturb’ sign the nurses put up for us.”
Benesch learned last week that he was not eligible for a heart transplant because of his weakening condition, WRAL reported.
The couple had put off getting married because of Benesch’s health and then because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But after learning about Benesch’s condition, the couple decided to tie the knot.
Myler said the hospital’s staff was supportive.
“His nurses were fabulous, being there and taking care of him for us,” Myler told WTVD. “Bringing him out into the garden so that I could walk up to him in the garden. And the hospital got us a classical guitar player from their arts staff. It’s not a lot of time at this point, because his heart is so weak. So I’m spending every day I can with him.”
Myler said her niece worked with nurses and other hospital staff members to arrange the wedding, which was held in a garden outside of the hospital. A hospital chaplain officiated, and both Myler and Benesch had family members there.
“Had I had a year to plan, I don’t think I could have planned anything better,” Myler told WRAL.
Their moments together were limited, but Myler made the most of it. She had been commuting daily from Martinsville to Durham to be with her husband but resigned from her job to be with him exclusively.
“The big thing for me is to be strong for him, and then I can have people help me be strong for me later,” Myler told WRAL on Tuesday. “Nothing else matters at this point. Not COVID, not any distance. ... It’s what you do for the person you love. You’re there for them. It’s till death do us part. But it’s beyond that. It’s forever for us -- forever. However long we have, it’s forever for us.”
Unfortunately, that time was much too short.
Myler’s sister set up a GoFundMe page to help the couple with Benesch’s end-of-life expenses. As of Friday night, more than $4,800 has been raised.