Once upon a time, in a sunny corner of Palm City, Florida, Steve and Charlene Owens pledged to love and cherish each other in sickness and in health. After 24 years of wedded bliss, they found themselves standing on the battlefront of an unseen enemy: terminal cancer. Their story is one of unyielding love and courage, a testament to the true essence of their vows.
The Owens had been counting down the days to their 25th wedding anniversary in September, but life threw a heartbreaking curveball. Charlene was diagnosed with a rare, aggressive form of bile duct cancer, casting a shadow over their plans. Despite the prognosis, Steve remained hopeful, telling WPBF News, “We’ve been together for 28 years and married for 25 in September. We may not make that, but we’re making every moment count.”
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, a thought sparked in the mind of Mary Ellen Huff, Charlene’s sister. Why not honor their love story with a vow renewal ceremony on this day of love? And so, under the soft glow of the setting sun, in Charlene’s favorite local park, an intimate ceremony took place.
Stepping into her original wedding dress, Charlene walked down the aisle arm in arm with her two sons, both her rock and her source of joy. Her eyes locked with Steve’s, she took her place at the altar, her heart brimming with love.
Although the harsh reality of Charlene’s prognosis loomed in the background, the couple chose to focus on gratitude. Steve, renewing their vows, shared, “I didn’t want to be upset about what I lost, I want to be grateful for what I had.”
The usually busy mom, community volunteer, and veteran’s advocate, Charlene, was radiant on her special day. Gratitude and joy replaced the anxiety of her uncertain future. “I felt beautiful, and I’m so touched by this loving gesture,” she reflected after the ceremony.
The next chapter in Charlene’s journey is a unique one, a celebration of life. Instead of waiting until her passing, Charlene will participate in this celebration in early March, surrounded by her loved ones. It’s a testament to her spirit that she continues to look forward with hope and joy.
“No matter what the outcome, we want Charlene surrounded by love,” her sister wrote on Facebook. This sentiment resonates in the actions of Charlene’s family and friends. Their unshakeable support for her is a testament to her impact on their lives and the community.
This tale of Steve and Charlene’s unyielding love, even amidst life’s toughest challenges, reminds us of the true essence of the vows “in sickness and in health.” It stands as a beacon of hope and love, illuminating our hearts and reminding us that every moment is precious.