MUNCIE, Ind. (WISH) — “Typical” is not a word anyone would use to describe Chuck and Jillana Johnson’s big day.
The blushing bride held a bouquet in hand while sitting bedside with her groom, who would soon be put on a ventilator. Their altar was a hospital bed in the intensive care unit at IU Health Ball Memorial.
It’s a love story that is only just now being shared with the world.
“It was almost like a Hallmark movie sort of thing, it almost felt surreal,” said Kevin Bockus, the hospital’s chaplaincy director.
Bockus said it was an out-of-ordinary request even for him and he added that there was pressure to preform.
“The staff had called and said a patient wanted to talk about doing a wedding and we had decided to do it the next day. Just a few hours later, the staff had called and said, ‘Hey, things aren’t looking really good for Chuck. I think we need to move this up and do it tonight,'” Bockus said.
In an interview with IU Health Ball Memorial, the couple explained they had been trying to get married for a while. However, with Chuck’s health declining, it made things difficult.
Despite never being a smoker, he was diagnosed with throat cancer several years ago but only just recently developed severe lung infections. The couple shared their story of missed opportunities to be together over the years and said they wouldn’t let that happen again.
They said they had been friends for 39 years and always wanted to be together, but the timing never worked until a few years ago when they decided to try it out for real.
“I said, one of these days, I’m going to the hospital and I’m not coming home and I didn’t want that to happen without getting married,” Chuck said in the interview with IU Health.
“He doesn’t give himself near enough credit, we need more good men like Chuck in this world, he’s a wonderful man,” Jillana said in the interview with IU Health.
The moment may have been just as important to hospital staff, giving them hope and a new appreciation for better or for worse.
“It brought joy that we had been missing. It felt like we had really made a difference in someone’s life,” Bockus said in the IU Health interview.
The couple was not available Thursday evening to talk with News 8, but the hospital said they are enjoying their time at home together.