Back in 2008, Jaquie Goncher was hanging out with her friends at a local pool and decided to dive in. That simple decision would forever change her life.
Her body entered the water like normal, but then without warning, she collided with the pool floor, instantly shattering her C5 vertebrae and fracturing her C2 and C3. Jaquie lay face down and motionless in the water, unable to move. Her friends watched from the side of the pool, thinking she was playing a prank on them, but quickly realized that something tragic had occurred.
Jaquie was pulled from the swimming pool, her neck limp and her body motionless. She was paralyzed from the chest down.
Jaquie was rushed to the hospital, where doctors were certain she would never walk again. She explained that although the doctors didn’t want her to lose hope, they also didn’t want to give her false hope:
The doctors said that the chances of me walking again were so small that they couldn’t even put a number on it. Luckily, I had a wonderful support system in my corner who were convinced that the doctors’ prognosis was not the life God had planned for me.
It has been nine years since that tragic afternoon, and Jaquie has a lot to show for it. Through countless physical therapy sessions, constant support from her church, and her personal drive to not be held back, Jaquie has regained her ability to walk. Although she may not be as fast as she use to be, she explained that she is proud of where she is at this point in her life:
“It may take me a little longer to get from one place to another, and I need to use my wheelchair when I go out, but I’m a very determined person. If I set my mind on doing something, I’m going to do it… even if it’s a little different that I used to do it.”
Everything looks very different than it did back before 2008, but that has never stopped Jaquie from reaching personal goals or living a normal life:
“I had always wanted to get married and have children — that was a given. Dating wasn’t very easy for me. I learned that you really have to put everything out there from the beginning, and it makes it easier to weed out the duds. I was never ashamed of who I am, and I knew I needed to find someone who accepted me for exactly who I am — no more, no less.”
When Jaquie met Andy on the now extinct app Let’s Date, she immediately gravitated toward him. When they decided to meet up, their first encounter wasn’t quite a fairy tale.
In Jaquie’s own words:
“I invited Andy over to my house, and I sat on my really uncomfortable couch, hoping he would sit next to me. Nope. He came in and sat across the room in my recliner. He was so incredibly shy! He didn’t say much, but I knew there was something special about him.”
The couple talked via social media from time to time, but their interactions were pretty inconsistent. It was almost three months before the couple hung out again, this time at Andy’s house. Per Jaquie:
“When I showed up to his house, I asked him to carry me up the stairs because he lived on the second floor. He picked me up in a big bear hug and we were standing there, face to face. People don’t typically carry me like that. I was so nervous and I politely asked him to carry me in his arm. He was such a good sport about it. It didn’t take long after that to realize that I had found the one.”
The couple eventually got engaged, and the wedding planning was put into full force. They decided on the flowers, the food, the photographer, but their most important decision came as a shock to everyone.
“I decided that I wanted to walk down the aisle at our wedding,” Jaquie said:
“Well, not only did I walk down the aisle, I stood and danced with friends and family for four hours. Before that, I hadn’t stood for more than 30-minute increments. The whole wedding was one big blessing.”
Unfortunately, Andy didn’t get to witness his beautiful bride walk down the aisle:
“I didn’t even see her walk down the aisle because I just started crying and I couldn’t stop. All the emotions hit me at one time.”
Jaquie is now pregnant, and this couple is most looking forward to the birth of their daughter. They cannot wait to celebrate their little family with loved ones.
Their journey hasn’t been the most traditional, but it’s clear to see that each chapter of their life is jam-packed with blessings. Jaquie wanted to give a little love advice to anyone who may be struggling in that department:
“Our relationship isn’t perfect, but it works well for us because we balance each other so well. My advice for anyone who feels like they can’t find ‘the one’ is to just be patient. Take your time to get to know someone and don’t rush things. Find someone who accepts you for exactly who you are. If they don’t love you for you, then they are clearly not the one.”
Wedding photos courtesy of www.lovestoriesbyus.com