1. Headline
  1. Headline

Video: Young couple’s love story cut tragically short

  1. Closed captioning of: Young couple’s love story cut tragically short

    >> back now at 8:11 with a love story cut far too short. a young bride loses her husband to cancer after just six weeks of marriage. it's a story that generated thousands of responses on our website. moving people in ways we rarely see. we're going to talk to the bride, bethany smith, in just a moment. but first, here's nbc's janet shamlian .

    >> reporter: the story of bethany and ryan in some ways is like many others in young love . they met their freshman year at the university of oregon and sparks flew. they were immediately, bethany describes it, joined at the hip. they graduated in 2009 , found jobs, settled in to an apartment, and knew the formality of tying the knot was not far off. in the meantime, they had the world by its tail. as they documented in pictures and home videos . indulging their passion for travel and adopting a cat. they named him boots. but ryan was feeling ill. a colonoscopy in january of last year revealed a large tumor in his colon. what turned out to be stage four testicular cancer . the diagnosis was initially hopeful and the couple tried to continue on with a normal life . ryan surprised bethany with an engagement ring last july. as his condition took a turn for the worse, reality set in. doctors said he had very little time left. in december, with just three days planning, and herculean help from their friends, bethany and ryan were married. despite ryan 's frail condition, it was a day filled with joy. they treasured every moment.

    >> here's our rings. and yours. they look so good.

    >> love you.

    >> reporter: ryan passed away six weeks later. while there is sadness, bethany says she sees a silver lining and hopes others will, too. she found her true life , the kind many spend a lifetime searching. for "today," janet shamlian , nbc news.

By
TODAY contributor
updated 4/19/2012 4:43:56 PM ET 2012-04-19T20:43:56

The bittersweet tale of the late Ryan Smith and his wife Bethany has touched people around the world, and TODAY.com readers have shared their reactions online. Among the comments are words of encouragement, love and hope.

On Wednesday we published the story, by TODAY.com contributing editor Laura T. Coffey,   of the young couple who planned a wedding in three days after learning that his cancer prognosis was grim. They set the date on a Thursday and were married by Sunday. “Looking back on it, there was more love in that room than I have ever experienced in my life,” Bethany said of her wedding day. “Although it was way too short, we were able to be married and celebrate our one-month anniversary, and that’s a gift no one can ever take away.” Six weeks after the wedding, Ryan was gone.

Their story has touched the hearts of many, including TODAY.com’s Facebook community. More than 18,000 people have recommended the story to their friends. Hundreds have left comments  praising the couple for their bravery and courage.

Read the original story: At 24, he hadn’t long to live ... so they got married

Reader Laura Sweat said, “This story left me speechless! Literally broke my heart but lifted me back up. They were some strong individuals! They have the kind of love that people look for everyday.”

Image: Ryan Smith, Stephen Schmidt, Bethany Smith and Isaac Schmidt on Ryan and Bethany's wedding day
Kevin Kubota  /  Kubota Photo-Design
Bethany Smith's father, Stephen Schmidt, hugs the bride and groom shortly before Ryan Smith had to leave the wedding reception and go rest. Bethany's brother, Isaac Schmidt, is pictured on the right.

“What a beautiful and courageous couple,” said Karen-2529772.  “My heart goes out to you Bethany! You had six weeks of loving marriage and many years of a wonderful relationship ... he is your guardian angel. You will meet up with him again.”

Many echoed Karen’s words, reassuring Bethany that just because Ryan has passed away that doesn’t mean he’s gone. Rkaralius  said, “I think when someone is destined to suffer from such an illness, it's especially important that they find their soul mate to help them through it. Bethany and Ryan are such soul mates; their story began long ago and is far from over. Stay strong, Bethany, and know that Ryan is still with you.”

Ryan and Bethany’s story isn’t just for those in relationships. It is about hope for everyone, an idea that resonated for many readers. Kathy Davidson said, “I really think that I was meant to read this at this particular moment. If I ever were to have another relationship in my lifetime I would want to go here!” The Bigpicture  agreed and said, “I am single and not in love and I am still bawling my eyes out. It's nice to know the precious few who are so very lucky to fall in love like this. May he rest in peace and prayers to Bethany for a happy and successful life.” Bigpicture wasn’t the only one with tears in her eyes. John-3403713  said, “Reading this story made me tear up for the first time in 15 years. So happy yet sad.”

Image: Bethany and Ryan Smith on their wedding day
Kevin Kubota  /  Kubota Photo-Design
Bethany and Ryan Smith's bittersweet love story has hit a chord with TODAY.com readers, with hundreds of comments and thousands of Facebook 'likes.'

Join in the Facebook conversation around the story

Ryan and Bethany’s love story has reminded some to put their lives into perspective. MaryJane Garcia said that after reading the story, “All my trivial problems have vanished.” Diana Marion Winslett said, “This story filters out what truly matters ... love.”

The images from the wedding  were especially poignant for people and many have said how much they love the romantic, intimate photos from the special day. “The pictures of them together are so precious and you could feel the love they shared," said Just Ice 4 Al.  “Bethany will have these memories forever to cherish. God bless them both.”

Video: Bethany Smith: ‘I have a lot of good memories’ (on this page)

Though the wedding was planned in only a matter of days, a large group of family and friends came from all over to celebrate the couple’s marriage. Facebook commenter Kim McCrady Osmonson called the story inspiring. “What lovely people,” she said of the couple. “Wake up every day and love your family and friends and community.”

Slideshow: One month of marriage: ‘A gift no one can take away’ (on this page)

Bride-to-be Michelle-1841649  wrote directly to Bethany in her comment, saying, “What a beautiful story and thank you for sharing it. I am currently in the throes of planning my wedding and your story has helped bring me back to what matters — the love of my fiancé and having our families and friends there with us. Thank you again and bless you.”

Image: Bethany and Ryan Smith kiss through face masks in hospital
Courtesy of Bethany Smith
Bethany Schmidt and Ryan Smith kiss each other through face masks in August 2011, about one month after the couple got engaged.

Ryan and Bethany knew they wanted love to be the focus of their day. Bethany wrote of the wedding, “That’s what we wanted our wedding to be about: our love for each other and for our friends and family. We may have only had a few days to put it together but we both agreed we would have done it exactly the same even if we’d had years to plan.”

To read the original story, click here.   Join the conversation on Facebook. To see more photos from Bethany and Ryan’s wedding, view this slideshow on TODAY.com, visit this post on the wedding website Snippet & Ink, or visit Bethany and Ryan’s wedding website.

To watch a moving video montage of Ryan Smith’s life that was shown at his memorial service, click here.

Friend TODAY.com writer Laura T. Coffey on Facebook, follow her on Twitter  or read more of her stories at LauraTCoffey.com.

© 2013 NBCNews.com  Reprints

Photos: One month of marriage: ‘A gift no one can take away’

loading photos...
  1. Getting ready

    Bethany and Ryan Smith had to plan their Dec. 11, 2011 wedding in just three days’ time after Ryan's doctors discontinued his cancer treatments. Here are images from their wedding day.

    Bethany has her hair done by Jennifer Siefried from Salon Essenza in Bend, Ore. Bethany's mother, Sue Schmidt, watches in the background. (Kubota Photo-Design) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Wine and roses

    Rose petals form the aisle at Bethany and Ryan Smith's wedding in Bend, Ore. The couple opted to have guests stand instead of sit to make the event feel more intimate. (Kubota Photo-Design) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. 'So glad I met you'

    When they were dating, Bethany gave Ryan a one-year anniversary card bearing the message, “You will not believe how glad I am to have met you.” Bethany highlighted those words in this chalkboard display at their wedding and also incorporated them into her wedding vows. (Kubota Photo-Design) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Helping hands

    Ariana Fernandez, co-owner and chef of Ariana Restaurant in Bend, Ore., helped Bethany and Ryan pull together their wedding at her restaurant in just three days. Here, Ariana's mother, Susan Asti, opens wine at the wedding reception. (Kubota Photo-Design) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Personalized messages

    Bethany said she wanted to avoid a Christmas theme for the December wedding, but she found paper-monogrammed ornaments at Pottery Barn that made ideal wedding favors. "We picked out a letter for each guest’s first name and I wrote a personalized thank you on the back of each one," she wrote on the wedding website Snippet & Ink. "We hung them on a beautiful birch tree and the guests had to find their ornament during the evening." (Kevin Kubota / Kubota Photo-Design) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. 'All I wanted to see'

    "I remember walking in the door with my dad, having to turn a little corner, seeing so many people and just searching for Ryan. He was all I wanted to see," Bethany wrote. (Kubota Photo-Design) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Their moment

    Bethany and Ryan planned their wedding as quickly as they did because they knew how little time they had left to get married. Ryan died of a rare form of cancer six weeks after the wedding. (Kubota Photo-Design) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. There for them

    Bethany's godfather, Wade Conrad, married Bethany and Ryan. He handled Ryan's memorial service just weeks later. (Kubota Photo-Design) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. 'More love in that room'

    “Looking back on it, there was more love in that room than I have ever experienced in my life,” Bethany Smith said about her wedding day. (Kubota Photo-Design) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. A family's love

    Ryan Smith receives a hug from his grandmother, Helen Zaraska. Ryan's father, Peter Smith, is pictured on the far left. (Kubota Photo-Design) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. A few quick photos

    Ryan was too sick to stay for the dinner and most of the wedding reception. Bethany and Ryan posed for a few photographs after the wedding ceremony, and then Ryan had to go lie down. (Kubota Photo-Design) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Alone at her wedding reception

    This photo of Bethany was taken shortly after the conclusion of the wedding ceremony. "The plan was to take photos right away but Ryan actually went to the car with his dad to lie down for a minute," Bethany said. "I was waiting for him to come back in to take photos and just got really sad he wasn't feeling well." (Kubota Photo-Design) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. A special engagement

    Bethany and Ryan displayed their engagement photos at their wedding. The couple got engaged in July 2011 and had these photos taken in November. After undergoing intensive chemotherapies, "Ry wanted to wait until he had a little hair," Bethany explained. (Kubota Photo-Design) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. A precious gift

    “Although it was way too short, we were able to be married and celebrate our one-month anniversary, and that’s a gift no one can ever take away,” Bethany said.

    To watch a moving video montage of Ryan Smith’s life that was made by Bethany's brother Isaac Schmidt and shown at Ryan's memorial service, click here. To see a video Isaac made celebrating Bethany and Ryan’s relationship, click here. (Kevin Kubota / Kubota Photo-Design) Back to slideshow navigation
  1. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  2. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  3. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  4. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  1. Kubota Photo-Design
    Above: Slideshow (14) One month of marriage: ‘A gift no one can take away’
  2. Image: Canadian singer Shania Twain poses with
    Gabriel Bouys / AFP - Getty Images
    Slideshow (26) Celebrity weddings of 2011

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments

More on TODAY.com

  1. Samantha Okazaki / TODAY

    At Home with TODAY: Jenna Wolfe shows the love in Harper's nursery

    10/30/2014 11:37:28 AM +00:00 2014-10-30T11:37:28
  1. Courtesy of Ryan Weimer

    Dad's Halloween costumes for son with muscular dystrophy wow pros

    10/29/2014 10:32:03 PM +00:00 2014-10-29T22:32:03
  1. 2 dead after plane crashes into building at Kansas airport

    A small airplane plowed into a flight safety center at an airport in Kansas after losing engine power on takeoff Thursday, killing at least two people and leaving five others unaccounted for, officials said.

    10/30/2014 4:34:14 PM +00:00 2014-10-30T16:34:14
  1. Courtesy of Frank Pizarro

    ‘I felt like Superman’: Plus-size marathon runners defy the odds

    10/30/2014 1:58:14 PM +00:00 2014-10-30T13:58:14
  1. NBC News

    Nurse Kaci Hickox defies quarantine this morning with bike ride

    10/30/2014 1:51:05 PM +00:00 2014-10-30T13:51:05