A few more minutes and they would have started their new journey together. Instead, the day meant to bring them closer only tore them apart.
Weddings are meant to be joyful. It's meant to celebrate love and bring not just the bride and groom together, but their families too. For such a beautiful moment, there are bound to be tears of happiness. However, for one groom, the tears shed were that of pain.
As 6-month-pregnant Jessica Guedes, 30, was on her way to meet her 31-year-old firefighter to-be-husband, Flavio Gonçalvez, at the altar, she started feeling ill, according to Metro UK. At first, her family believed she was just suffering nerves about the wedding when she mentioned she was experiencing waves of dizziness with pains in her neck. Little did they know that it wasn't pre-wedding jitters that had her in so much pain.
Meanwhile, her fiancé was waiting with bated breath for the arrival of his bride. Surprised by the delay in her arrival, he continued waiting only to be called to help when the mother of his child had finally arrived at their church in Sao Paulo. Reportedly, as Jessica was stepping out of her limo, tragedy struck. Barely a few steps out and she collapsed. Moments later, when her fiancé and their families rushed her to a hospital, she was declared brain dead. She passed away and left behind her devastated to-be-husband, who had just become a single father after doctors saved their baby.
According to the outlet, Jessica's pains were symptomatic of pre-eclampsia, which is a condition characterized by high blood pressure and significant amounts of protein in the urine, meaning red blood cells break down and eventually lead to seizures, as well as liver and kidney failure. What's worse is that it can go unnoticed in pregnant women or those who have just recently given birth, according to The Sun.
When recalling the tragic moments to Brazilian Crescer Magazine, Flavio said, "I was worried because I was waiting for her at the altar and she was taking ages to come in. A cousin of hers ran down the carpet and told me that she had passed out. I opened the car door and she was lying down but regained consciousness to talk to me. I said to her, ‘Baby, I’m here’. She replied that everything was fine, but that she had a severe pain in the back of her neck. At that moment, I became a rescuer, as I have been for seven years with the Fire Department. I took her out of the limo, started first aid and asked for help from my firefighter friends who were there as guests," according to Inside Edition.
They had taken her to a state maternity hospital in central São Paulo to get her treated, but Jessica's case was so complex that they had to get her transferred to the private Pro Matre Paulista Maternity Hospital. But it wasn't just pre-eclampsia that the 30-year-old mother had suffered. She also had a stroke and internal bleed, which forced surgeons to remove her uterus. Having performed an emergency C-section to save the 29-week-old baby's life, they unfortunately lost the mother to brain death after the operation, reported Mirror UK.
Flavio may have lost his wife, but he had the gift of their newborn—a little girl he named Sophia, who was born weighing 2.05lbs and13.5 inches (930 grams and 34 centimeters) and had to be placed in the neonatal intensive care unit, according to The Daily Mail. A relative of the deceased woman said, "Jessica was attending prenatal care, had no high blood pressure during her pregnancy and was healthy, doing physical activity and eating well." And yet, the mother-to-be and bride-to-be was unable to survive the sudden emergency. This was something the bereaved widower had to come to terms with slowly.
"Jessica was a really cheerful person who loved life, an enlightened and strong being of light. I was so looking forward to becoming her husband and becoming a father. I will be strong and I will not weaken in the face of adversity. The love of my life taught me how to respect and treat a woman well so that I could learn how to take care of our daughter. I still can't believe this has happened. It seems like I'm in a sad movie, and you cry, cry, cry, but leave the movie theatre knowing it was just a movie. However, in my case, the movie will never be over, and the suffering will go on forever," he said emotionally.
But in this movie of his, one particular moment could have been a form of foreshadowing of the bond Flavio would have with Sophia. A picture was taken in which the premature child reacted to her father's voice by opening her eyes, turning to look at him, and seemingly reaching out for him with an outstretched hand that comes out from underneath the covers. While pushing aside his grief to connect with his child, the new father realized his health plan did not cover private maternity care. He didn't have to worry for too long about that though, as his colleagues from the military police helped raise more than the £20,000 (100,00 reais) needed to cover the expenses.
Thankfully, the single father can now focus on raising his little girl, the precious gift his late wife left for him.