The bride wore canvas sneakers and a borrowed gown. There was no catered buffet, no band, not even enough chairs in the room for her guests to sit down. And yet not a single thing was lacking when 23-year-old Shimeka Harris married the love of her life in her mother’s hospital room at JPS Health Network, where Shimeka — known as Shimmy — also was born.
Shimmy and 26-year-old Deion Mompremier planned to marry in October. It says so on the white tips of their matching Converse sneakers, upon which they wrote “Save The Date 10-25-13.” But life does not always cooperate with permanent marker, and their plans changed abruptly with news that her mother, 51-year-old Marilou Harris, was more ill than anyone suspected.
“When we found out, I asked Shimmy, ‘Do you want to get married now?’” Deion recalled as he waited with friends while Shimmy dressed. Shimmy said yes, putting in motion a 24-hour whirlwind of preparations. Determined that the mother of the bride would see her daughter wed, Deion’s family approached Women’s Services nurses about a ceremony on the floor on Monday, and they found a trio of out-of-the-box thinkers on 2 South.
“The nurses have been amazing,” said Julie Spears, Deion’s sister-in-law, who got out her own wedding dress, created bouquets for mother and daughter, and recruited the minister of her own church to perform the service. Her husband, Laszlo, shopped for rings. Shimmy’s sister, Monica, got on a plane from New Orleans.
Unit clerk Ruby Slack and nurses Cathy White and Maria Martinez took care of the mother of the bride, going together on a deep pink, lacey dress and coordinating hat, helping her dress for the occasion and warmly accommodating more friends and relatives than typically visit at once. “It is an honor to be able to be here for this,” said White. Added Slack, “This is JPS. This is just who we are.”
Waiting for Shimmy to dress, Deion marveled, “In the last 48 hours, everything that could happen that could break somebody down has happened — and got fixed just as fast.”
With Marilou Harris looking on, Shimmy glided slowly from the hall into the room on the arm of her father. Pastor Chris Graebe of Fort Worth’s LifeChurch.tv stood near the foot of the bed to perform the service, offering Shimmy and Deion a chance to add vows of their own. With no time to prepare, they spoke off the cuff. “I am here to protect you,” Deion promised Shimmy, “from anything that could possibly hurt you.”