One year ago this week, Steven Alexander angered his wife by failing to join her on Splash Mountain during a family vacation to Disney World. It resulted in a famous photo of his wife, Jordan — with her arms crossed, glaring at the camera — as she rode the flume by herself.
Now, the husband is explaining why he didn’t go along, and celebrating the woman who went solo.
In a social media love letter to his wife, Steven recounts how he and his wife spent the day at the Magic Kingdom before finally heading to Jordan’s favorite ride. Unfortunately, Steven ran out of steam and suggested she go ahead without him.
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“She marched off towards the ride, alone, and when we made our way over, she got off the ride, handed me her phone, showed me the picture and said, 'I did this for you!' We both broke into laughter, hugged and made our way out of the park,” he recounted in a Love What Matters post Monday.
The photo went viral last year after it took off on Reddit.
Steven and Jordan began dating about a month or two before he went on dialysis because his transplanted kidney, one donated from his father, had begun failing. The two met while singing karaoke in the fall of 2006.
“We had the same kind of sarcastic and lovable sense of humor. And we just hit it off right then and we’ve been inseparable since then,” he told TODAY.
Steven was so ill at the start of their relationship that they joked they should have changed their wedding vows to reflect that "we had never been sicker or poorer," he said.
He recounted how Jordan for years would come home from her 12-hour night shift at the Veterans Affairs hospital, where she worked as a nurse, and immediately begin preparing him for home dialysis, a four-hour process.
Steven, 38, received a second transplant in July 2011 and he recently received another clean bill of health from his doctor.
"I’m feeling good. I’m very, very blessed and lucky," said Steven, who originally learned he had end stage renal disease during an emergency room visit on New Year's Eve 2002.
Steven, who lives with his family in Syracuse, New York, said he wrote his Facebook post as "a love letter" to his wife.
“The ability to make each other laugh, even in the difficult times, has been the glue of our relationship — I don't think I would have survived without her in my life. She carried me when I was at my weakest, and believed in me when others told her not to get tied down to someone so sick,” he wrote in the post.
“So, the world sees a silly picture of an angry lady on Splash Mountain, but I see the funny, smart, intelligent and beautiful woman who carried me through life, and I love her more than anything.”
Today, Steven and Jordan are just weeks away from welcoming their second baby, a girl, to join their 14-month-old son, Jack. While preparing their daughter's room, Steven said he began reminiscing about the past year, including "the week we ended up on TV and radio and the newspapers" because he wouldn't ride on Splash Mountain with his wife.
The family returned to Disney World in January, but Jordan was too pregnant to ride Splash Mountain.
But Steven said it was last year's trip that continues to hold deep significance for the couple.
“Going there was a symbol of us triumphing over kidney failure and dialysis and being together,” he said.
He said he loved how the picture that made his wife famous captured her sense of humor perfectly.
“Very much so. It’s so funny. You look at the picture and she looks so angry but she is one of the sweetest, kindest and most compassionate and empathetic people I know,” he said.
Steven hopes that other people with kidney disease can take hope from his story.
“Dialysis is hard. It literally sucks the life out of you just so that you can live. It’s rough,” he said. “You’re kept alive but it’s not a robust life. I want people to know there is hope when you have a transplant to have a great and normal life.
And if you’re lucky enough to have somebody who stands by you through something like that, then together you can make the best of it, like we have, and feel pretty lucky.“