By Sarah Raymond
When we say wedding vows, we say that we will love the other person for better or worse, for richer or poorer, or in sickness
and in health. While we hope that the emphasis will be on the positive side of those options, we must accept the pain that comes with loving someone. Kristen and Tim Gordon are the recent winners of the Squire’s Village wedding/vow renewal contest, and they have been forced to live both the beautiful and painful parts of these vows. This story starts with the woman at Squire’s Village who began the contest and the heart-touching tale that led her to connect with the Gordons.
Someone once said, “Death leaves a heartache no one can heal; love leaves a memory no one can steal.” Earlene Evans Henley lost her husband Mike after almost 42 years of marriage due to his battle with lung cancer. She received $1,200 from several of her squires to purchase a memorial for him, and she hunted for months in order to find something
that would perfectly honor Mike’s memory in his favorite part of their yard. One night, Henley found a cabana and knew that she had found the perfect item. This choice would later allow Henley to help the Gordons, although she had no idea how significant it would become.
Henley had wonderful friends in her life who stayed by her side as she grieved the loss of her husband, but his absence was still very clear. Henley had no desire to remarry, but she wanted a special friend who would help the loss of her husband feel less heavy. At one point, Mike had even come to Henley in a dream and told her that he was going to send her, as she put it, “somebody who would appreciate [her] heart.” Henley was very particular about the kind of person she would allow to be in
her life, and only one person met her qualifications. This person just so happened to be her high-school sweetheart.
They had gotten engaged quite young, but Henley felt that she was not the right person for him. She had not been given an example of how to have a healthy marriage, so she decided that she needed to let him find someone else. They grew up, married other people, and had their own lives. He was single when Henley contacted him with the intention of rekindling their friendship; however, it took all of five months for them to get married.
This year, Henley decided that they would celebrate their anniversary by giving someone else a wedding. The cabana would be the perfect venue, and she was even able to find a honeymoon suite, preacher, musician, photographer, and cake maker to add to the package. All that was missing was the happy couple. Henley said that she “posted this free tiny wedding/vow renewal on Facebook, in Squire group pages, and in every buy/sell/ trade page that I could find in middle Tennessee.”
While she received an abundance of responses, there was one in particular that brought her to tears because the story was all too familiar to her. The response was about a woman named Kristen who was happily married to a man named Tim Gordon, but they had never been able to have a ceremony or honeymoon. Kristen had always wanted a ceremony, and she did not
have much time left before she also passed from cancer. Henley and everyone around her agreed that this couple should win the contest. What better way to honor Mike’s memory than sharing the love that had been so abundant in his life with someone who was fighting a similar battle?
The wedding is currently scheduled for May 22 but may be moved to a closer date if Kristen is put on hospice. According to Henley, “Ricky and I cannot possibly celebrate our anniversary better than making Kristen’s last wish of having a wedding come true. We believe that it is when we give that we truly receive.”
The wedding is set for 5:00 P.M., and enough cake will be served to feed 50 people. Jesse Denzil will perform live music from 6:00 to 9:30 P.M. at the fire pit. Anyone who is interested may partake in the festivities beginning at 6:00. We do not get to pick the battles we face, but we can choose to learn from them and change for the better. One of the hardest things
we can do is walk with someone through heartache, but it is also one of the most beautiful things we can do because shared grief is one of the most powerful ways that one heart can bind to another.