If not borrowed & blue … then sanitized and happy to make do

Published 12:01 am Saturday, March 24, 2012

LAUREN WOOD/THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Husband and wife Kenyon and Latajaha Mearday were determined to get married on the day they intended. The couple were set to marry on March 10, but the date found Kenyon in the hospital after developing an infection from a surgery he had a few days prior. Despite this, they carried on with the ceremony at Natchez Community Hospital in Kenyon’s patient room.

NATCHEZ — The aisle runner in the chapel was a medical sheet. The bride wore white, and the groom, a suit top while his cold feet were covered in a blanket. And while she walked hand-in-hand with her father toward the altar, the bride had to make sure she didn’t snag her dress on her husband-to-be’s bed.

It wasn’t what Latahaja Grinnell Mearday had planned for her wedding, but it was perfect. Nobody plans to get married in a hospital.

The couple had planned to get married in a church March 10, but earlier that week the groom, Kenyon, had gotten dehydrated playing basketball and started to feel intense pains in his lower back. Only a couple of days before his wedding, he was admitted to Natchez Community Hospital so doctors could place a stint to help him pass the kidney stones that were causing the pain.

The surgery was successful, and Kenyon was released the evening before the wedding. It wasn’t long, however, before he started to feel severe stomach pains, and by 1 a.m. he had to be readmitted to the hospital.

“Pain just woke me up, I couldn’t sleep,” he said. “They told me an infection had flared up.”

Being back in the hospital may have been the best thing for his health, but there was something else that Kenyon was thinking about — the wedding.

“We didn’t think it was going to go through, there was a lot going wrong,” he said.

The couple didn’t know what to do. While Kenyon recuperated in the hospital, Latahaja waffled back and forth on whether or not she should cancel the wedding. She went to the beauty shop and got her hair done as family members told her she needed to make a decision.

“I told them I didn’t want to make a decision until Kenyon was in a state where he could make it with me,” she said. “I went up there with my hair in rollers, and he told me, ‘This is the day you will become Mrs. Mearday.’”

With that, Latahaja called the preacher, the Rev. Kenneth Stanton, and left to get ready. While she put on her dress and tiara, at the hospital they prepared Kenyon, putting on what they could of his suit, shaving his head so it looked its best and — briefly — unhooking his IV.

Members of the hospital staff prepared a room for the 29-member wedding party.

“That shift at Natchez Community, they are really amazing,” Kenyon said.

The groomsmen rolled the groom down the hall and they waited for the bride. When she started her walk down the improvised aisle, they turned Kenyon’s bed so he could get a glimpse of the soon-to-be Mrs. Mearday. That glimpse took away any dissappointment he may have had about the circumstances.

“I didn’t see her until they rolled me around,” he said. “When they did, I saw everybody there that I wanted to see — I wasn’t mad about anything, because everybody I wanted to be there was.”

When the ceremony was over, the bride reluctantly parted with her groom to greet people at the wedding reception — they decided not to cancel since it was already paid for — and then went home to change.

“When I got back, the folks at the hospital had fixed a room up for us,” Latahaja said. “They put two hospital beds in there, and we pushed them together, so I spent the night at the hospital.”’

Now, the Meardays are adjusting to the cadences of life on the other side of marriage. But that day, the trying first day they spent as man and wife, will always be special.

“It’s certainly a day I will never forget,” Latahaja said.