They wanted to spend a lifetime together, but their love was cut short. In the time they had, they lived and loved each other deeply.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on April 25, 2020. It has since been updated.
Cancer is an unrelenting disease that can take away the best in people. All they can do when faced with this scary disease is fight the hardest they ever have in life. A father-of-three in the UK did just that by making every moment of his life count ever since he got diagnosed with terminal cancer. Chris Clark proposed to his girlfriend of five years, Charlotte Barnes, immediately after and they had their dream wedding within 10 days of him being diagnosed.
A freelance photographer, Chris met Charlotte during her brother's wedding in 2007 as he was hired for it, according to Huffpost. There was an instant spark and they spent the entire evening talking. They started dating since that day and as their relationship grew, they spoke of getting married but never got around to it. He had three children, Connor, 26, Logan, 23, and Sennen, 21 from a previous marriage.
In September 2012, he felt stomach pains and was diagnosed with stomach cancer, according to Cosmopolitan. He was given a few months to live and he did not want to waste a single moment. He asked Charlotte to marry him in the hospital waiting room, and she said yes. "I'd been waiting for the right time to propose, but suddenly the importance of marrying Charlotte became quite obvious – she's my rock, and I needed her next to me as my wife for the biggest fight of my life," he told the magazine.
Within ten days of getting his cancer diagnosis, their friends and family pitched in to make their dream wedding possible, according to CoventryTelegraph, which was attended by 300 people. "Cancer wasn't welcome at our wedding," Charlotte said. "Although the speeches were emotional, I didn't feel sad – I just smiled through the whole day."
The couple looked beautiful together at their wedding in St Gregory’s Church in Offchurch. They were full of joy and hope that the battle can be won even though he was told he only has a year.
"When he was diagnosed, Chris was told the average survival was 12 months," Charlotte said. "We know the odds are against us – Chris has got a very aggressive form of cancer. But we have so much love, support, and hope on our side. Chris and I are a team, and will get through this together," she said in 2012.
Chris fought it tooth and nail for two-and-a-half years but his fight ended in 2015 at the age of 43. He died in his 32-year-old wife's arms in April 2015 and she has had to learn to go on without him.
"Chris was not only my husband but he was my best friend and my soul mate. I can’t begin to put into words how grateful I am for everyone’s beautiful comments and condolences so far. What has astounded me is how people have really been able to understand the love Chris and I shared. I am humbled beyond belief by people having taken stock of their own lives and relationships with loved ones and used our story as inspiration to live in the moment," she said, according to ITV News.
She has the beautiful memories of her wedding day and keeps them close to her heart. "It was the most amazing and magical day. When I look back at photos we both look so happy.
It was clear cancer took a back seat that day. I'm so lucky I got to meet and marry a man as amazing as Chris. I thank God for every day he gave me with him," she said.
Chris and Charlotte had started Coventry's Race For Life, a marathon for the cause of raising funds for Cancer Research UK, and she continues to be a part of it now.
While hundreds of people paid a tribute to this inspirational man, what his youngest daughter, Sennen, said showed who he was as a person. "You inspired so many including myself to push themselves, never give in and stay positive. Every day I will strive to make you proud my hero, best friend, and teacher. I know you’re still here with me. Love you always," ITV News quoted her as saying.