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.
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.”
“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.”
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.”
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.
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