Engagement Session // Redlands, California
There's a sign in every Pinterest loving wife's home that says "Every love story is beautiful but ours is my favorite." I have always thought that quote to be so silly. Who doesn't favor their own personal love story right? Cody and Danielle share a love story so unbelievable, if I didn't know it to be true first hand, I would think they'd made it all up. You know the old, "girl next door..turned girlfriend..boyfriend literally dies..boyfriend gets brought back to life but is in a coma..boyfriend wakes from the coma but has amnesia and only remembers girlfriend as the girl next door, not his girlfriend..boyfriend's memory returns..girlfriend is by his side through a long rehab..boyfriend proposes on a beautiful beach cliff" you know the one. I just had to sit them down and have them officially share what their love story looks like.
MIT: So Danielle was the “girl next door” growing up, but how long have you two known each other?
Danielle: We were next door neighbors for 13 or 14 years, we attended the same high school but never hung out because of our 4 year age difference. That kind of age gap matters more when you are younger ex: I was 12 when he was 16. Now I have a sophisticated older man as my future hubby! HAHA
MIT: Cody when was the first time you can remember thinking “I’m going to marry that girl.”?
Cody: Obviously after I died and came back to life I knew I was going to propose much sooner than we planned, but I had known before that just because every experience together was good. We were a good match so I knew we'd be good together forever.”
MIT: How about you Danielle? When can you remember thinking of Cody as “husband material?”
Danielle: "When we had been dating for awhile and nothing bad happened I knew we might just last, like, "wait are you going to do something weird or start to show another side?" Things just stayed great forever and, even when I was off the rails, he would keep me grounded. He's really perfect for me that way. He's calm and positive while I'm a cynical stressball. He balances me out & reminds me to "just chill." We did a lot of growing together and have been through so much that I know we can survive anything."
MIT: Thanksgiving day 2016 was the day that everything changed for you two, can you share with me what happened?
Danielle: "The evening before thanksgiving Cody wasn't feeling good but couldn't explain how he felt so he took some aspirin and we went to bed. The following day was Thanksgiving, so we headed to his parents house down the street from where we currently live to celebrate and eat with his family. After we had finished eating dinner we were all in the kitchen just talking and Cody just fell back out of his chair and hit the ground, it happened so fast we thought he was joking. He started making these sounds like he was gasping for air and his family pulled the dinner table away from him & started turning him onto his side. I ran to the house phone to call 911. I was calm on the phone until they asked me if he was breathing & I started crying saying "I DON'T KNOW, I don't think so…" The dispatcher told me to unlock the front door so the paramedics could come in. I ran to unlock it & turned to run back to the kitchen and before I could make it back to the kitchen the paramedics were rushing in. They tried shocking him & I could hear them saying they had a weak pulse, then hearing them say they lost it again. It all happened so quickly and just like that he was being wheeled out to the ambulance.
They walked right passed me with Cody and on the stretcher & he was completely blue and lifeless. The whole way to the hospital his mom was yelling "he's dead he's dead I can't believe he's dead!" I tuned her out & sat quietly in the backseat. When we got there Codys Mom was acting hysterical so they put us in this little room. That made her think even more so that he was dead & at that point I thought it too. Once we found out Cody was alive, we were able to see him. They transferred him to the ICU and I stayed that night with him in there. We heard soooo many different things: he had a heart attack, he had significant brain damage, his organs failed, he aspirated, etc., but they didn't know anything for sure. Honestly, I stopped listening to anything negative they had to say. Cody was in a coma for 4 long days.
They finally were able to tell us he had Wolfe Parkinsons White syndrome which is a rare electrical issue with the heart. Basically the heart has two wires that send signals to each other about when to beat but Cody had 3 wires on his heart so the 3rd wire was sending mixed signals to which sent a lethal beat. After he woke up he didn't know who I was to him or what year it was. He thought it was 2006 and I was just his neighbor. I was devastated obviously. They performed surgery on Cody a few days after he woke up from the coma to fix his heart. The surgery was 100% successful and Cody was moved to the Loma Linda rehabilitation center. He couldn't tie his shoes or put on his sweatshirt the right way but by then he knew who I was again thank God! He spent 2-3 weeks living at the rehabilitation center and then he finally got to come home. Even after he came home he has a long way to go with rehab and recovery. After almost a year he learned how to drive again and resumed his normal life including returning to his job as a UPS driver."
MIT: Danielle, What was going through your mind during the 4 days Cody was in the coma?
Danielle: "I just really wanted him to open his beautiful brown eyes again so I could look into them! I wanted them to open so bad and him to, at least, be alive. I didn't care about the lack of brain activity the cat scans showed or the kidney failure they told me about. I just wanted him to wake up so I could look into his eyes again. I figured if he can wake up we would be ok, everything else, all the bad stuff, we can work with. I just wanted him alive again without a tube down his throat or a million IVs in his arms. I thought about what I would do with his stuff if he didn't make it, I thought about if I would finish my teaching credential program if he didn't make it, I thought about moving back into my parents if he didn't make it.
Every time I had a negative thought I talked myself out of it because I couldn't imagine my life without him. I knew that he would make it out because he just had to. The first night in the ICU I told the nurse were were supposed to have a destination wedding in Jamaica in the future. She told me alright lets get you guys to Jamaica! If she could see us now. Obviously we changed our location but our destination wedding dream is coming true."
MIT: What made you two decide on a destination wedding?
Danielle: "We had always talked about having a destination wedding early on in our relationship. We love traveling together! Cody’s sister was married in Jamaica and my parents had their honeymoon there so we thought, "lets do the same." After Codys heart issue, we decided to have our wedding in Los Cabos, Mexico instead. We wanted more people to be able to attend since this wedding is such a special event considering it almost didn't happen. My grandpa wasn't going to fly to Jamaica but he's making it to Cabo! We love vacationing and we love white sandy beaches so its a win win."
MIT: So how did Cody propose?
Danielle: "Cody was recovering from his death pretty much & I was whining to him about getting engaged. Poor guy literally didn't know which way was up. But he made it happen because he knew how I felt about locking him down while he was still alive! I couldn't imagine losing him again and I wanted him to know my commitment to this relationship. Cody proposed in Catalina 3 days before our 5 year anniversary. He didn't tell me where we were going he just told me the night before that we were going to have a lot of fun the following day. That night he couldn't sleep (because he was so excited. Cody woke up at 5 am the next morning and I asked him why are you awake you weirdo and he just replied “cause I love you so much!" I was like, "what the heck is wrong with you dude?”
We hopped in his truck around 8 am and embarked on our adventure of love haha! Along the way I noticed we were heading towards Long Beach. Early in our relationship we would head down to Long Beach harbor and people watch on this big hill with a light house on it. We would sit under the light house and watch the cruise ships or the freighters come in and out. So I thought maybe we was talking me there but then we kept driving and I saw a sign for the Catalina Express. We had always talked about wanting to go to Catalina together but never had the chance. We boarded the huge boat and set sail for the island. Along the way Cody asked me if I'd be ok spending the rest of my life with him. Like, “Really!? I wiped your butt and shaved your face in the hospital when you asked for your ex girlfriend because you were stuck in 2006!?” Anyways, this wasn't him proposing this was him just making sure I'd say yes haha! Cody was so nervous! We got to the island got a bite to eat and then rented a golf cart to cruise around the island. Little did he know the golf cart rentals were cash only, luckily I had $90 cash on me. Cody was so annoyed that I had to spend my cash and that they didn't take card. We laughed it off and cruised off into the Catalina trails. At every cliff Cody would ask "wanna stop here?” and I was like, “no, lets keep going." He's like, "how bout here?" I laughed and said "ok fine." So I turned and walked towards the cliff to look at the ocean when I turned back around to Cody he was down on one knee! He was so nervous he forgot his lines and opened with "so I like you a lot &.." I died laughing and got on my knees to sit with him. Obviously I said yes & shed a tear or two. After that, we quite literally rode off into the sunset (on our golf cart.)"
MIT: You two have obviously been through the fire and have come out so strong. If you could sit down with another couple going through a health scare, what would you share with them?
Danielle: "I would say to never lose hope. If you don't have hope then you have nothing. Might as well pack up and go home. Always stay positive and tune the bad stuff out if you need to. It is okay to break down but after pull yourself up and keep on holding on. I broke down lots of times but my family and Cody kept me going.
Also, If they want to talk about it let them talk about it, support them. If they don't want to talk about it don't force them to talk about it! People grieve and take life changing news differently so just be there no matter what.
Lastly, surround yourself with loved ones. Whether it's friends or family ask for help or support. If not for my friends, I wouldn't have eaten the entire 4 days Cody was in a coma. If not for my coworkers covering for me I would have lost my job. If not for my family, I would have lost my mind. Surround yourself with people who love you and support you because you're going to need them."
What did I tell you about their love story guys? Unbelievable right!? MIT has the honor of capturing this amazing couple’s destination wedding this June & we are absolutely honored. Stay tuned for those wedding images, but you can check out some more images from Cody & Danielle's Redlands, California engagement session below while you wait.