When Kim McManus met Mark Ellins online in 2015, they had an immediate connection.

Both had been through traumatic losses of their loved ones. Mark had been married for 42 years when his wife died of cancer. Kim had been divorced for many years but was in a long-term relationship and her partner died of a sudden heart attack.

Kim said that made them both well aware of how precious life is. “You are never guaranteed the next day, so things progressed quickly.”

Mark had been on many dates, so by the second time out with Kim, he knew she was the one. “I thought Kim was absolutely wonderful and very bright, which I had a huge appreciation for. I met quite a few ladies, but Kim fit the bill.”

Kim loved Mark’s adventurous side. “He was an accomplished scuba diver and skydiver.” He had 800 jumps under his belt. She also was grateful for his kindness. “Mark is such a wonderful and decent person, and he is very considerate of others.”

After just a few months of dating, Mark suffered a hemorrhagic stroke. He lost his short-term memory. Kim had no doubt in her mind she would stand by his side.

“I walked into the room in ICU,” she said. “The first thing he said was, ‘I am sorry I can’t remember your name, but I do remember you’re the one I love the most.’” Kim told him whatever he had to go through, they would go through it together. Mark spent several weeks in the hospital and a few more weeks as a patient at Brooks Rehabilitation. When he was released, Kim took him to all of his outpatient therapy sessions. She is so thankful he made a remarkable recovery. “He knows my name. He has been able to recall quite a bit of the past now. We are so grateful we stuck it out with each other.”

In May of 2016, they picked out a ring together and Mark proposed. Mark’s daughter thought Kim deserved a proposal with a surprise, so even though she already said yes and had the ring, Mark proposed again at a special dinner in front of his family. Thankfully, she said yes the second time as well.

Mark and Kim were married on May 6 outside next to the St. Johns River at the Club Continental in Orange Park. Their 90 guests included some of the therapists from Brooks Rehabilitation who helped get him back on his feet. Kim’s son, who was a corporal in the Marine Corps, walked her down the aisle in his full dress blues. Mark said he couldn’t help but choke up and shed a few tears as he said: “I do.” They included a unique element in the ceremony. They both enjoy drinking wine, so they took two carafes of red wine and poured them into a single glass, symbolizing the joining of their lives together. Then, they each did a toast to the other and drank from the same glass. Kim said the entire day went exactly as she planned.

Kim feels so blessed that despite all her husband has been through, he manages to put their relationship first. “He loves me the way I always wanted to be loved.”

Mark said knowing Kim was there for him was all the incentive he needed to recover. “Quite simply, I only wanted to continue living because of Kim.” They both know they will treasure each and every moment they have together.

If you have a wonderful wedding story for “I Do I Do,” please email your suggestion to Brodyrobyn@gmail.com.

You can read the original Florida Times-Union article here.