October 19, 2012
Laurie Zakaria and Ahmad Obeid were married on the 4M medicine unit so Laurie's mom could be there for her daughter's special day.
There are a few moments in your life when you really want your mom at your side. For Laurie Zakaria, it was her wedding day.
Three years ago Laurie's mom, Wadad, was diagnosed with lung cancer.
"She is a tough lady," said Laurie, softly patting her mom's leg as she lies in her hospital bed. Wadad was admitted to St. Joe's medicine floor a week ago because her condition has begun to deteriorate. Worried that her mom wasn't going to be there for her special day, Laurie and her fiancé Ahmad Obeid, decided they would move their wedding date up and have the ceremony in the hospital.
"My mom took care of me and my dad for our whole lives. She is a very tough lady, she has worked hard all of her life and she puts everybody before herself. She is never selfish," said Laurie. "And her biggest fear (when she got sick) was if something happened to her, what would happen to me and my dad. She was terrified because I am the baby and depend on her so much."
In those early days after being diagnosed, the family asked Wadad if she had a bucket list of things she wanted to do or anywhere she has always wanted to travel and see. "She wanted to see Laurie get married, so we are here today," said Ahmad. "She's hanging in there. She's holding on. She has held on for three years."
This has been a fast and passionate love affair for this young couple. You can see their strong connection and admiration for each other in every look, smile and laugh.
They both come from a farming family. The Obeid family has farms in Brantford and the Zakaria family in Stratford Ontario. Their fathers have known each other for more than 20 years because they work side-by-side at the Ontario Food Terminal.
You can say Laurie is marrying her family's competition.
Ahmad has been good friends with Laurie's older brother Eddy, but had never met his bride until this past May when she and her mom were at the Food Terminal helping their father. Not wanting to cross any unspoken lines with his friend, Ahmad admired Laurie from afar and when they saw each other at work, he would just smile and say hello.
"On June 25, it was a Wednesday, she finally came over to me and we just started talking. We talked for about an hour and half and that was it, I knew I wanted to be with her," he said. "I felt like I knew her forever and I just felt good talking to her. I knew I wanted to be with her and there was no doubt in my mind that I was going to marry her. I actually made up my mind that day that I was going to marry her – she just didn't know it yet."
Laurie said from that moment on she was swept off her feet.
"Anybody who knows me knows that whoever I end up with will find their way to my heart with food. I love my stomach," she said with a laugh. "I would be starving at work, and every time my stomach would growl I would turn around and he would be there with a cut up melon for me or a bag of cherries."
Ahmad popped the question two months later.
"It was his birthday and he had the ring and my parents were supposed to go to his family's house for dinner. He had this whole thing planned, but mom wasn't feeling well so we didn't end up going." Laurie said a week went by and she could tell there was something going on. "He called me the Saturday morning and said 'get up, I am coming to get you." He surprised her with a cooked breakfast at his house, but the fact that Ahmad was shaking most of the way through it tipped her off.
"I thought, do I have to take you to the Emergency Department, what's going on, are you feeling okay, and then he started to tear up and told me how much he loves me and how much he wants to spend the rest of his life with me. And then he gave me this small box."
The last three years that Wadad has been sick, Laurie and her mom have grown very close. She calls her mom as her best friend. "When she was first diagnosed, the doctors didn't give her any hope. Within that year they said she is at stage four (lung cancer), go home and we will help make you comfortable."
Laurie said she has never given up, and neither has her mom. For three years straight she has not left Wadad's side. They go and get facials together, they have been to Vegas and they even did routine trips to the gym together.
Surrounded by their family, Ahmad and Laurie exchanged their vows Friday in the little sunroom just two doors down from her mom's hospital room. They originally planned to be married on November 3 which is Wadad's 55th birthday, but destiny had something else in mind for this whirlwind romance.
Wadad was able to be there by her daughter's side for most of the short 10 minute ceremony until the temperature in the room was too much for her.
The couple wanted to thank the nurses and 4M staff for helping to make this wedding possible. Within 24 hours of moving up the wedding date, the sunroom was cleaned, furniture moved, wedding decorations made by some of the unit staff and brought in by family members, and the room was transformed to host a moment in time that the Obeid and Zakaria family will forever hold close to their hearts.
Page last updated: March 25, 2011