An Illinois couple’s love story almost came to a tragic end 16 months ago when Ethan Menges contracted a deadly illness.
Menges lost all four of his limbs and almost his life to the virus, but his fiance Jordan Mathieu stayed by his side and devoted herself to helping him recover. ABC 13 reports the couple’s rocky journey led to a joyous occasion this May when the two walked down the aisle together and were married in Roscoe, Illinois.
“It’s weird because for the majority of our relationship, this past year and a half, two years, was in a hospital setting, not the typical things you do going out on dates, going to movies, hanging out with families, it was bedside,” Menges told reporters.
Menges said he even proposed to Mathieu in his rehab room. He said his bride’s devotion during his near-death experience really touched him.
“That means more than the world to me, because I know she’ll always be there, she’s been there through that, I’d have to really screw something up,” he said.
The young man collapsed at a sports game last January after contracting a flu-like virus; the illness developed into walking pneumonia and spread across his body, infecting his lungs and bloodstream, according to the report. The illness affected his circulation and forced doctors to amputate all four of his limbs. At one point, doctors even told Menges’ family to start planning his funeral, his sister Brittney said.
Though hope was slim, Menges pulled through with encouragement from his family and his soon-to-be bride. Menges went through months of intensive therapy and now has prosthetic limbs.
They allowed him to walk down the aisle with Jordan on May 14. Jordan could not put a ring around her husband’s finger, so she placed a necklace with the ring around his neck instead, the report states.
The couple’s beautiful story of devotion and perseverance is a stark contrast to the message of a new summer romance film, “Me Before You.” The film romanticizes assisted suicide through the story of a rich young man who becomes a quadriplegic and gives up on life. Despite his caregiver-turned-lover’s attempts to show that his life has meaning, he chooses to commit suicide anyway. She even caves into his decision to kill himself.
The film has disability rights advocates and pro-lifers upset because of its pro-euthanasia tones.
British actress Liz Carr told The Guardian: “We have so few opportunities in the media to explore disability. But there is a disproportionate number of stories which relate to the ‘problem’ of disability being solved by death. Television and film seem to love those individuals who want to die. They’re less keen to cover the rest of us who might want to live but are struggling to get the health and social care resources to do so.”
Unlike “Me Before You,” Ethan and Jordan Menges’ real-life love story has the type of happy ending that should be celebrated in the media. The couple did not let Ethan’s disabilities or his illness stand in the way of their joy. Their story is an example of how true love never gives up hope and always perseveres.