One night, her dad went to bed complaining he was short of breath. The next day he was in the hospital, fighting for his life.
Faster than his family could keep up, one thing after another stopped working in Tom Monk’s 67-year-old body: his kidneys shut down, his liver failed, he couldn’t breathe on his own. A blood clot had slammed into his lungs. His legs had been deprived of oxygen.
His feet started to turn black.
And that was when his 27-year-old daughter, Nickalena, knew she was going to move her June wedding to right here, right now, in her father’s ICU room.
Nickalena and Tom Bedwell get married in an Iowa hospital room by her brother, Derik Doherty. Her father, right, on life support. (Jamie Grant Photography)
“I can’t get married without my dad,” she told her fiancé, Tom Bedwell. She wanted, she told him, to get married in front of her father, no matter if he could see or hear what was going on.
"Absolutely, if that will help you," Bedwell said, Nickalena recounted to Inside Edition.com.
And so, on March 7, they got hitched in an Iowa hospital room, where her father was hooked up to a ventilator - there in body, if not so much in spirit.
Her dress didn’t fit because it hadn’t been altered. But that was just fine with her. She whispered a prayer in her father’s ear and held his hand in a stationary version of a father-daughter dance. Photographer Jamie Grant captured the moments.
“It wasn’t the wedding I dreamed of,” Nickalena said. “Most couples get married and go away … I spent the night with him in the hospital.”
Nickalena said she didn’t want her father to be alone. In total, she said, “I probably left the hospital for an hour and a half.”
Her dad was admitted on Feb. 28. “Everything that could go wrong, did,” she said. She couldn’t bear to look at her father’s feet, and doctors said that his legs would have to go. But that was something that couldn’t even be contemplated because his condition could not be stabilized.
One night, Nickalena said she had a heart-to-heart talk with one of her father’s nurses. She was ready to hear the unvarnished truth.
The nurse told her “if pulls through this, he will be in a nursing home. He will have to undergo several surgeries for the amputations and they will be painful. He will be on dialysis for the rest of his life,” Nickalena recounted.
In other words, he would have no quality of life, only pain and suffering.
Nickalena, left, dad Tom Monk, and her younger sister, Alexandria, in happier days. (Courtesy Nickalena Bedwell)
The family decided to remove him from life support. So on March 9, two days after the hurried marriage, Tom Monk was taken off the ventilator. He left this world about 20 minutes later, his daughter said.
The couple will still have their June wedding. Nickalena’s dress still needs to be taken in.
But that can wait for now, she said.
On Monday, she and her family and friends attended her father’s funeral.