A man’s dying wish

LEBANON -- A Lebanon County man diagnosed with stage four cancer last June fought for nearly 11 months with his best friend by his side. Before he lost his battle to cancer in May, he got a big surprise.

Magazines, chairs maybe a photo or two. All things you'll find in a standard waiting room.

But who would've thought the waiting room at WellSpan Good Samaritan Hospital in Lebanon would be transformed to a wedding venue.

"We wanted to provide to both of them not what they Couldn't get last minute but just, get rid of the hospital feeling. This isn't where anybody wants to have that memory," said Alicia Conner, a nurse manager.

For Meg Nagel, now Meg Nagel-Pete, it was everything.

"Everything was just perfect because when you're faced with a situation like we were, you know, the mundane details don't matter," Nagel-Pete said. "All that superficial stuff, that's not what's important."

Last June, her then-boyfriend, Andy Pete, was diagnosed with stage four cancer. It had been more than 10 years since he had seen a doctor.

"From the very beginning, he was, we were told that, that he was not going to beat it," Nagel-Pete said. But he was, he had a very strong denial about it so he always, he thought he was going to beat it the whole time. Even up to two days or the day he passed."

Pete had proposed only two months earlier.

"Meg never left his side for a minute," said Brandy Rodriguez, a nurse case manager. "I don't even think she went to the bathroom and Andy just wanted to stay on this earth so bad just to be with her. I mean you couldn't help but be moved."

But time was ticking. Courthouse employees paid them a visit at the hospital to fill out paperwork for marriage licenses. No time for elaborate planning.

"My hair was a hot mess," Nagel-Pete said. "It really was. I pulled into a conference room and I was told a few hours before the wedding that he was in active stage of dying. I don't think I've ever been more strong than I did to try and put on a game face."

The archway, organist, professional photos, cake, refreshments, decorations, flowers, all provided by the hospital and the community.

All of it, a surprise to both.

"It was amazing, I'm still speechless," Nagel-Pete added. "I don't know what to say besides thank you, but I feel that's so inadequate."

What she thought would be her bedside wedding became Andy's dying wish. The beginning of a fairy tale ending... if only it could've lasted longer.

"Sometimes you don't think that's how your life is going to go," she said. "You don't think you're going to get married in a hospital and that's not something somebody would plan but I look back and it was literally, it was perfect."

Hospital chairs and all.

The very next day, Pete lost his ability to talk. He passed away 48 hours after they said their vows.

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