Raul Hinojosa knew he was about to die.
The 33-year-old had leukemia, and on Friday morning, he was preparing to let go from his hospital bed in Amarillo, Texas. Hospital staff were aware he didn’t have long and asked if he had any final wishes.
He had one, 11 years in the making.
“I want to marry her,” Hinojosa whispered, since he didn’t have the strength to speak, according to Amarillo Globe-News. “I want her to be mine.”
Against all odds, the hospital’s staff decided to make it happen.
The “her” was his fiance Yvonne Lamas. They had been together for 11 years, even had a 9-year-old son together. Lamas had three girls from a previous relationship, and Hinojosa took them in as his own.
“As a father-figure he was very loving, very caring to my kids,” Lamas told CNN. “He gave them the world and was there for them when times were tough.”
He had proposed to her in 2007, well before he was diagnosed with cancer. But, like other young men, thought he had time.
“He was determined to give me the best fairy tale wedding,” Lamas told CNN.
He worked maintenance and repair at an apartment complex in Dallas, trying to earn enough for that extravagant, perfect wedding. Then, in 2012, he was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia.
“He tried saving up, but within that time he ended up getting diagnosed with the leukemia,” Lamas said.
The disease slowly progressed until Oct. 22, when he was admitted to the Baptist St. Anthony’s Hospital. Lamas didn’t leave his side for a single day, as he battled both the cancer and a fungal infection of his throat and lungs, the Amarillo Globe-News reported.
But by Friday, as his life was about to end, he still hadn’t married her. So the second he named it as his final wish, everyone at the hospital sprung into action.
Hinojosa already had his bride-to-be, but to pull this off, he would need a few more things: a suit, a chaplain, a marriage license, a dress for Lamas and, of course, a cake.
One at a time.
The hospital’s cafeteria went straight to work baking a wedding cake. Meanwhile, relatives of the couple rushed out to obtain a dress for Lamas.
The suit came to Hinojosa by a stroke of luck, a sign if you will, that this was supposed to happen.
Though the hospital’s director of critical care services Allen Overturf generally dressed fairly casually to the hospital, he was attending his daughter Cheyenne’s school Christmas program that day, according to Amarillo Globe-News. She had begged him to dress up, so he was wearing a coat and tie.
Overturf gave it Hinojosa.
Finally, one of the hospital’s chaplains agreed to officiate the wedding.
By this point, the couple had almost everything they needed. Save for the most difficult piece of the puzzle – a marriage license.
In Texas, there is a 72-hour waiting period to obtain one. Sadly, no one thought Hinojosa had that long to live.
That chaplain took Lamas to the courthouse to see what they could do, and yet another good Samaritan stepped up for the couple – a judge chose to waive the waiting period.
Finally, it was time to hold a wedding. Hinojosa, handsomely dressed in fine clothes, lay in his hospital bed while about 30 critical care workers stood in two lines, forming an aisle.
Luck remained on the couple’s side for just a little longer. As the Globe-News noted, “For twenty momentous minutes, perhaps inexplicably, no other CCU patient needed a nurse.”
Lamas, stunning in a white wedding dress and holding a large bouquet of flowers, walked down this aisle of palpable human kindness, escorted by her father.
“When I walked down the aisle and saw him in the suit, he just took my breath away,” Lamas told CNN. “He was so handsome. It was priceless.”
One member streamed the wedding on Facebook Live. Throughout nearly the entire 19-minute video, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. From somewhere, what sounds like Johann Pachelbel’s Canon in D played.
Lamas grasped Hinojosa’s hands, as the chaplain read through the service.
“I know that there is some concern that you have had about will you be remembered,” the chaplain said during the service. “You will always be in Yvonne’s heart, in the heart of your children and family. That will never change.”
When the chaplain declared them husband and wife, the room exploded with cheers and applause. Though Hinojosa hadn’t moved much during the service, appearing too weak, he reached up and pulled Lamas close as they shared a long, deep kiss.
Thirty-six hours later, Hinojosa died.
As CNN noted, “When she signed her husband’s death certificate, it was the first time Lamas had signed her married name.”
But he died having fulfilled his final wish.
At one point during the ceremony, the chaplain said, “When this illness was diagnosed. Yvonne promised she would never leave him. She would be with him. They would do this together.”
And so they did.